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What to do in this bleak midwinter: How about visiting a museum?

Cal Ramsdell of Randolph views "Flower Blooming in The Heaven 2021" by Emi Fujita and Emiko Makino at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton.Matthew J Lee/Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

Has poet Christina Rossetti’s image of the “bleak midwinter” — with its “Frosty wind made moan/Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone” — ever seemed more apt than it does in this mid-pandemic winter of 2022? Last January, we knew what we should do with our free time: stay home. But this year it’s different. Many of us fall into a gray zone with our risk tolerance — theaters, restaurants, even friends’ dinner parties may not seem like such a good idea, but surely there are some reasonably safe options for going out in public?

If that’s how you feel, then consider one of the region’s many museums. All require masking, and socially distancing is generally easy at this quiet time of year. You don’t need to see the same exhibits you’ve visited countless times before, either. Numerous museums around Greater Boston are greeting this particular bleak midwinter with a rush of innovative creativity.


There’s a whole new perspective on Georgia O’Keeffe at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover; glass depictions of nature to bring the outdoors in at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton; and a deep dive into the work of Barkley Hendricks at the Rose Art Museum in Waltham.

“Cladonia Portentosa Lichen” by David Lincata is on view at the Fuller Craft Museum. Matthew J Lee/Matthew J Lee/Globe staff


The glass artistry now on exhibit at the Fuller Craft Museum is inspired by the work of Czech artisans Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka — 19th-century creators of the plant and invertebrate biological glass models at the Harvard Museum of Natural History — but with a very modern twist.

“Glass Lifeforms 2021 is the third iteration of the Glass Lifeforms exhibitions, which are spearheaded by glass artist Sally Prasch,” said Beth McLaughlin, artistic director and chief curator of the Fuller Craft Museum. “She assembled a fantastic panel of jurors who selected the works from among 122 submissions representing artists in 16 countries. It really shows the possibilities of glass as a medium.”


But to McLaughlin, the exhibition goes far beyond just displaying lovely works of glass. “It’s a wonderful winter exhibition,” she said. “Outside there are no leaves on the trees. Everything is gray and brown. It’s a breath of fresh air to come into our galleries and see plant forms and flowers. It’s like a little burst of nature.”


You probably know Georgia O’Keeffe best as a painter. But from Feb. 26 through mid-June, the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy will exhibit an unusual collection of nearly 100 photographs taken by the artist, starting in the mid-1950s. Many offer a new look at the same iconic images she often painted: skulls, desert landscapes, flowers.

Georgia O'Keeffe's "Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium)," a black and white Polaroid from 1964–68, will be on view at the Addison Gallery.Georgia O'Keeffe

“This is a facet of her work that until now was largely unknown, even to people in the art world,” said gallery director Allison Kemmerer. “We associate her with photography because she was married to [photographer] Alfred Stieglitz, and we’ve seen his famous photos of her, but we don’t think of photography as her art form. This was a way to share something new and innovative about a beloved artist whom we think we know so well.”

Although viewers won’t see familiar New England scenery in this collection, the exhibition does have a local tie-in, Kemmerer pointed out. “A lot of her emphasis on composition reflects her studies with artist Arthur Wesley Dow, who came from Ipswich. This is the 100th anniversary of the year he died, so while the O’Keeffe show is up, we’re also including a show drawn from our permanent collection of Dow’s work.”



Another exhibition that features the photos of an artist better known for paintings is taking place at the Rose Art Museum, which on Feb. 10 is debuting “My Mechanical Sketchbook,” an exhibition of the work of the late painter Barkley L. Hendricks.

Barkley L. Hendricks, Self Portrait with Black Hat, 1980–2013. Courtesy of the artist’s estate and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.Barkley L. Hendricks

“By displaying Hendricks’s riveting photographs, Polaroids, and drawings alongside some of the artist’s well-known oil and acrylic paintings, we hope to shed new light on complex and fascinating aspects of his creative process, artistic versatility, and brilliant, all-encompassing vision,” said Gannit Ankori, the museum’s director and chief curator, who co-curated the Hendricks exhibit with Elyan J. Hill, guest curator of African and African diaspora art.

The so-called “mechanical sketchbook” of the title is how Hendricks referred to his camera, which captured images from his own urban environs as well as from his travels to Nigeria, Jamaica, and Europe.

“The idea was to juxtapose these never-before-seen works with some of the artist’s well-known paintings to show a richer, bigger, picture of this really brilliant artist,” Ankori said. “Hendricks’s self-portraits are remarkable, but so are his portraits of others, in part because he was showing images of people whose images had not appeared in museums before, specifically Black people. Some were from the African-American community and others from other parts of the African diaspora. He decided to create this pantheon of beautiful Black people he had encountered, emphasizing their pizazz, style, joy, and presence.”


Hendricks found inspiration from objects as well as people, Ankori pointed out. “There’s a whole section on boom boxes and television sets. He also portrayed fashion, especially high-heeled shoes.”

Each museum is following strict masking protocols and offering various online options in conjunction with the new exhibitions. But for visitors comfortable with entering a museum, the benefits right now are manifold, said McLaughlin, of the Fuller Craft Museum.

“Experiencing artwork in difficult times can offer moments of reflection, contemplation, and hope,” she said. “Being able to go to a museum when there’s so much stress in the world and getting lost in objects and the wonder of it all is a healthy antidote to what we are all going through right now.”


All museums require masks; some require proof of vaccination for eligible visitors. Hours and openings are subject to change; please check before visiting.

Fuller Craft Museum

455 Oak St., Brockton


Addison Gallery of American Art

Phillips Academy, 180 Main St., Andover


Rose Art Museum

Brandeis University, 415 South St., Waltham


Nancy Shohet West can be reached at

A detail of a piece called “Unbroken Hads of the Vine” by Demetra Theofanous and Dean Bensen 2021 at Fuller Craft Museum.Matthew J Lee/Matthew J Lee/Globe staff