January 3, 2013

“Brilliant Beginnings” and More at the Boston Athenaeum, 2013

(Boston, Massachusetts) Exhibitions scheduled for 2013 and beyond in the Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery of the Boston Athenæum feature “Brilliant Beginnings: The Athenæum and the Museum in Boston,” on the extraordinarily close collaboration that helped establish one of the world’s great art museums.
Through January 12, 2013
“Chromo-Mania! The Art of Chromolithography in Boston, 1840-1910”

Organized by Catharina Slautterback, curator of prints & photographs, “Chromo-Mania!” explores Boston’s critical role in the development of the chromolithograph, one of the most important visual media of the nineteenth century.

February 13, 2013, to August 3, 2013
“Brilliant Beginnings: The Athenæum and the Museum in Boston”

On March 10, 1870, the trustees of the newly incorporated Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, met for the first time. Boston’s first art museum had no building, no collection, and very little in the way of financial resources. Where would the museum be? How would it be organized and staffed? Who would pay the bills? What was its purpose? Who would it serve?

Organized by Hina Hirayama, associate curator of paintings & sculpture, “Brilliant Beginnings” explores what happened next. The exhibition celebrates the exceptionally close collaboration between the fledgling Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Athenaeum, which itself had collected and exhibited art since 1827. 

With some 70 objects, including paintings, sculptures, watercolors, drawings, photographs, decorative arts, and documents, the show outlines how the Athenæum was a generous lender and friend, indulgent temporary landlord, mentor, and senior patron during critical years when the MFA’s very survival was sometimes in question. This historic partnership, Hirayama explains, was exceptional in its intensity, intimacy, and informality. It was also deeply important to both the success of the MFA and the development of American art museums. Yet its story has never fully been told before.

“Brilliant Beginnings” is presented in conjunction with the release in March of Hirayama’s new book, With Eclat: The Boston Athenæum and the Origin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (University Press of New England, 2013). Based on extensive new research, the book and the exhibition present the first complete chronicle of this pioneering collaboration in its historical context.

September 2013 to January 2014
“Collecting for the Boston Athenæum in the Twenty-first Century: Paintings & Sculpture”

March 2014 to July 2014
“In Graphic Detail: Great Paintings Engraved”

September 17, 2014, to January 4, 2015
“John Gadsby Chapman”

About the Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery:

Located on the first floor of the Boston Athenæum’s National Historic Landmark building at 10½ Beacon Street in the heart of Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts, the Norman Jean Calderwood Gallery is the Athenæum’s main public exhibition space. The gallery is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; from 9:00 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; and from 9:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Saturday. Admission to special exhibitions in the Calderwood Gallery is free to members; $5.00 for nonmembers. The gallery and the rest of the Boston Athenæum building are closed on major holidays. 

About the Boston Athenæum: 
Founded in 1807, the Boston Athenæum is Boston’s first cultural institution. It combines an art museum, with a public exhibition gallery and collections of paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, and decorative arts; a leading research and membership library with some 750,000 books, including 100,000 rare and historic volumes; and a civic forum including lectures, readings, panel discussions, and other events. Information about membership, programs, and hours can be found at www.bostonathenaeum.org.