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With new wing, MFA prepares to soar

November 18, 2010
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Published by Metro

The numbers are extraordinary: 53 galleries, 5,000 works of art, a 63-foot soaring glass courtyard, and $504 million.

On Saturday, the Museum of Fine Arts opens its new Art of the Americas wing to the public for the first time. It’s the most expansive project of its kind in the world today, and also an architectural feat that changes a forgotten neighborhood.

“One of the aims of the project was to consolidate five great collections the museum had, but also to open up the building to the community, particularly to the north Fens,” says Spencer de Grey, a senior partner at Foster and Partners, the London based architecture firm that designed the wing.

They wanted to work with the long neglected landscape of the Back Bay Fens, and at the same time respect the MFA’s original architecture. The result is a reopened Fenway entrance, renovated exterior, and, of course, a 121,307 square foot four level gallery on the east side of the building.

“It’s essentially a freestanding building inside the museum,” says Michael Jones, a partner at the architecture firm.

The wing contains artwork from North, Central and South America, with paintings and artifacts ranging from portraits of founding fathers to Mayan ceramics.

FRESH INK

“Fresh Ink: Ten Takes on Chinese Tradition” also opens Saturday. In 2006, the Museum asked 10 contemporary Chinese and Chinese-American artists to study the MFA’s collection, and create a work in response. Their interpretations, a blend of old and new, will be on display in the wing’s lower level Gund Gallery, in its inaugural exhibit.

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