On November 20, the Museum of Fine Arts, Bostons much-anticipated Art of the Americas Wing officially opened to the public, and locals and visitors cant get enough. When I visited the museum last weekend, the galleries were packed with people and there was a line outside of those just waiting to buy tickets. The new 121,000-square-foot wing a project five years in the making displays 5,000 works from the MFAs collection.
The new American galleries showcase everything from Native American crafts to Paul Revere silver to 20th-century Abstract paintings. Standout pieces include the extensive John Singer Sargent collection on level 2 and the enormous Passage of the Delaware by Thomas Sully. The first-floor galleries were specially designed to fit the latter painting (shown above), which measures over 12 feet in height; this is the first time the painting has been displayed in its original frame.Definitely take the time to explore outside the main galleries, however. In the Ship Models and Maritime Arts room on the lower level, a set of drawers along one wall opens to reveal further artifacts like whale bone carvings and buried treasure (well, a collection of gold coins), a sure kid-pleaser. Behind the scenes exhibits on levels 1 and 2 show visitors how everything came together, from picking out wallpaper colors to arranging the art on the walls.
Also abuzz this past weekend was the New American Café, another just-opened addition to the MFA in the three-story, glass-enclosed Shapiro Family Courtyard. Visitors were lined up to get a table at this casual eatery past 3pm the day I went. The restaurant features gourmet takes on classic American dishes (think fennel sausage pizza and a hand-carved turkey club), and even offers regional wines and microbrews. www.mfa.org
For general trip-planning information, see our Boston Travel Guide.