Even those of us who haven’t sat in a classroom in decades may find ourselves experiencing a twinge of back-to-school excitement at this time of year. But you don’t need to sign up for Philosophy 101, acquaint yourself with new roommates, or try to maneuver a U-Haul under the Memorial Drive overpasses to take advantage of the campus scene at the various colleges and universities around Greater Boston.
Many of the region’s colleges include magnificent museums, allowing visitors the opportunity to add culture to their personal syllabus this fall — without putting in any study time.
Davis Museum, Wellesley
Wellesley College’s Davis Museum and Cultural Center presents “Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Olentoja (Creatures),” the first multiple-installation presentation at a US museum by the Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila, opening next Wednesday.
The exhibition, curated by museum director Lisa Fischman, includes five works by the artist, four of which were created in the past three years. Each one depicts beings — human, animal, magical, or botanical — poised in ways that reflect their relationships with their environment.
According to Fischman, Ahtila is a storyteller, and uses her work to explore the interaction among the realms of the human, the animal, and the divine.
Several events are scheduled at the Davis Museum in conjunction with the show, including an opening celebration with the artist Wednesday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m; a book launch for Dutch critic, theorist, and filmmaker Mieke Bal, celebrating his newest publication, “Thinking in Film: The Politics of Video Installation According to Eija-Liisa Ahtila,” on Sept. 21 at 5 p.m.; and a gallery talk with Bal from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on Sept. 25.
The Davis Museum is on the Wellesley College campus at 106 Central St. Admission is free, and the museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday until 8 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.
For more information, call 781-283-2051 or go online to www.davismuseum.wellesley.edu.
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis
Brandeis University in Waltham is home to the Rose Art Museum, which on Tuesday opens five new exhibitions.
“Image Machine: Andy Warhol and Photography” features images of some of Warhol’s favorite celebrity subjects, including Elizabeth Taylor, Gianni Versace, Cheryl Tiegs, and Jackie Kennedy, and examines the role of photography in Warhol’s art and its relationship to his portrait painting.
“Light Years: Jack Whitten, 1971-1973” is the artist’s first solo exhibition in New England, and features several monumental works that reflect his experimentation expanding the typical scale of painting on canvas, including the Slab paintings of 1971, for which he constructed a T-shaped tool that pulled acrylic paint across a surface in a single gesture.
“Omer Fast: 5000 Feet Is the Best” is a 30-minute cinematic video that explores the controversial topic of drone surveillance and warfare. The film stems from a series of conversations the filmmaker conducted with a former US Air Force Predator drone operator, and incorporates both original footage from the interviews and fictional restaging.
“Collection in Focus: Al Loving” features two pieces by the prominent abstract painter and collage artist whose work explored color, space, line, and form. Loving came to public attention when he became the first African-American artist to have a one-person show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1969.
“Minimal and More: ’60s and ’70s Sculpture from the Collection” explores art of the 1960s and 1970s, an era that witnessed a revolution in the perception and production of art in America. The show brings together works by Jackie Ferrara, Mary Miss, Jackie Winsor, Carl Andre, Anthony Caro, Donald Judd, and Robert Morris.
All of the exhibits are free and open to the public. The Omer Fast exhibit closes on Nov. 3; the other four will remain at the Rose Art Museum until Dec. 15. An opening reception will be held Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m., preceded by a talk at 4 p.m. with Omer Fast.
On the Brandeis campus at 415 South St., the Rose is open Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For details, go to www.brandeis.edu/rose or call 781-736-3434.
McMullen Museum, BC
The McMullen Museum of Art, on Boston College’s Chestnut Hill campus, continues its exhibition of the work of Gustave Courbet, a French painter whose work is believed to have tremendous influence over his peers well beyond his own nation.
In “Courbet: Mapping Realism,’’ a range of his pieces are displayed alongside works by many of the artists he influenced, including Elizabeth Boott Duveneck, Martin Johnson Heade, Winslow Homer, William Morris Hunt, Eastman Johnson, and John La Farge.
The museum is in Devlin Hall on the BC’s campus at 140 Commonwealth Ave. Hours during this exhibition are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., through Dec. 8, except for holiday closings.
Free docent-led tours are offered from 2 to 2:45 p.m. Sundays. For directions, parking, and program information, call 617-552-8100 or visit www.bc.edu/artmuseum.
Spellman Museum, Regis
At Regis College in Weston, the Spellman Museum of Stamps & Postal History is marking National Hispanic Heritage Month with a special exhibition opening Sunday.
The show, which continues through Oct. 15, includes US stamps featuring famous Hispanic Americans and Hispanic culture, as well as stamps from Latin American countries.
The museum at 235 Wellesley St. is open Thursdays to Sundays, noon to 5 p.m., or by appointment. For more information, call 781-768-8367 or go to www.spellman.org.
OUTDOOR ART: Old Frog Pond Farm, an organic pick-your-own farm at 38 Eldridge Road in Harvard that also showcases outdoor art by proprietor Linda Hoffman and other local artists, opens its annual Sculpture Walk exhibition on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Visitors may take a self-guided tour around the pond and through the woods to see the installations by 19 sculptors, with bluegrass music provided by Blue Frogs. For details, call 978-456-9828 or go to www.oldfrogpondfarm.com.
MUSIC’S MASTERS: The Lexington Symphony opens its new season — with “Music of Masters’’ as its theme — Saturday at 8 p.m. with a program featuring Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, Sinfonietta by Benjamin Britten, and Mozart’s Symphony No. 29.
Conductor and music director Jonathan McPhee will offer a preconcert talk at 7 p.m. in Cary Memorial Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Ave.
Single or season tickets can be purchased online at www.lexingtonsymphony.org or by calling 781-523-9009.
Send ideas to nancyswest@ gmail.com.