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Long regarded as a hub of learning and culture, the city of Boston boasts a wide array of art museums, from grand public institutions to cutting-edge modern galleries showcasing contemporary art. Here are some of the best spots for viewing everything from medieval masterpieces to conceptual art installations.
All art lovers will be drawn to Boston’s MFA, which is one of the United States’ biggest museums and home to an outstanding international collection of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts. Highlights include the world’s largest collection of works by John Singer Sargent and artifacts such as the American revolutionary Paul Revere’s hand-crafted Liberty Bowl.
Housed in a Venetian palazzo-style mansion, this beautiful museum displays the private collection of the 19th-century arts patron Isabella Stewart Gardner. The ornate building and its inner courtyard will delight architecture aficionados, while the 2,500 pieces of European, Asian, and Islamic art will delight classical and modern art lovers. Located near the MFA, the museum is within walking distance of stops on some Boston hop-on hop-off tours.
Situated in the city’s Seaport District, on the edges of Boston Harbor, the ultra-modern ICA has a stark, industrial-looking exterior that mirrors the pieces housed inside. Contemporary art fans will appreciate works by new and acclaimed 21st-century artists, including paintings and digital, audio, and visual installations. For a unique view of the building’s exterior, keep an eye out on a harbor cruise.
Overlooking Cambridge’s Harvard Yard, the Harvard Art Museums complex is made up of three separate institutions: the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler Museums. Those interested in Western and European art from medieval times onward will love the Fogg and Busch-Reisinger, while Asian and Islamic art fans will be in their element at the Arthur M. Sackler museum.