In 1936, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston held its first fund-raiser, the Modern Art Ball. It was attended by many art-world luminaries, including Salvador and Gala Dalí, who arrived in shark costumes.A blank stone installed in 1908 over the front door of the Museum of Fine Arts was intended to be carved into a frieze. But the museum’s board couldn’t decide on a design, and it has remained blank for 103 years.
The Peabody Essex Museum, open since 1799, is the oldest continuously operating museum in the US. The museum began as a “cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities,’’ one of which is a 7-foot-tall statue of the Hawaiian god Kuka’ilimoku, carved of breadfruit wood.
Lucky people named Isabella can visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum for free (usually $12). There, if they look underneath the painting “Europa’’ by Titian, they’ll find a piece of cream-colored cloth stretched over the wall, like wallpaper, which is actually part of a gown worn by Mrs. Gardner.
An often-told story about the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is that it was built in the Berkshires because the Clarks were scared of a nuclear bomb hitting Manhattan. The real reasons are far more numerous and mundane, including the family’s love of nature and the charm of more remote places.
In New Haven, two enormous buildings line both sides of a whole block of Chapel Street. These are the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art. The former was architect Louis Kahn’s first significant commission, and the latter, completed after his death, his last.
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week