on January 11, 2008
As a graduate student in Boston, I am able to go to the MFA for free at any time. I try to take advantage of this perk at least three or four times a year. I love art museums, and I find they are best enjoyed in increments of 2 to 3 hours. After that, I get tired from all the thinking and standing, but it's a good kind of tired. Despite the number of times I have been to the MFA, I still haven't seen all there is to see. I don't even think I have been in all the rooms. The museum continually has fabulous temporary exhibits, which is where you will see most of the contemporary art. Some of these exhibits are included in admission, while others require an additional fee, sometimes as much as $20. Regular admission is $17.50 as of January 2008. Students, seniors, and youth aged 7-17 can receive discounts. On non-school days, admission for youth is free.Some highlights of the permanent collection include ancient Egyptian art, Japanese art, and several pieces from Boston's colonial era. Most visitors to the museum seem to particularly enjoy the Impressionist room, which is perhaps what the museum is best known for. However, the museum seems to have at least a few pieces from nearly every major period in art. Some of my personal favorite pieces include Childe Hassam's Boston Common at Twilight, Degas' Dancer sculpture, the Paul Revere silver, everything by Renoir, and the Islamic pottery. As a huge fan of Catalunya in Spain, I also have a special place in my heart for the Catalonian chapel.Logistically speaking, the collection is situated over two impressive floors, in a neoclassical building with lots of stonework. Several sculptures are also located outside the two main entrances to the museum, and in the summer, visitors can access exterior gardens. There is also a cafe in the museum, though I have never eaten there. There are free coat checks at either entrance where you can store all bags and coats (but not suitcases) while you explore the museum. I have brought my infant son to the museum a few times, and getting around with a stroller or wheelchair is very easy. The staff is very helpful with holding doors, and there is even a room set aside for nursing! However, unless your child is very young and will be asleep most of the time, I wouldn't really recommend taking babies there. The ceilings are high and will amplify any screaming the child decides to do. However, for older kids, the museum has designed educational materials to help them get the most out of the experience.There is parking for a fee, but I highly recommend taking the E branch of the green line, which has a stop directly outside the museum. (Conveniently, the stop is called Museum of Fine Arts). You can also take the orange line to Ruggles and walk for five minutes. It can be tricky to find if you go that route, but there should be plenty of people at Northeastern University's campus to point you in the right direction.Overall, if you are at all interested in art, you absolutely cannot miss the MFA while you are visiting Boston. It has one of the largest and most impressive collections in the country.
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