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The Hoot Scoop: Every first-year’s guide to the art scene in Boston

By Ben Benson

Section: Arts

August 19, 2016

It’s the beginning of the year, you’re new to Brandeis and you’re probably wondering, “Where’s the art?” You’re in luck, because this is Boston, and the art scene abounds.

1. The city’s biggest and most comprehensive collection is the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). This museum is huge, free with a Brandeis ID and easy to get to, located within walking distance from the Brandeis Boston Shuttle’s Commonwealth/Mass Ave. stop. The MFA features art ranging from ancient religious idols and pottery to contemporary sculpture and photography. It has something for everyone and is a must see in the Boston art scene.

2. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is just blocks away from the MFA. This collection of classical and contemporary art is housed in a replica of a 15th century Venetian palace. The Gardner Museum is currently hosting a stunning exhibition of Renaissance books, a must-see for anyone interested in that period. Admission is $5 with a student ID (and free to anyone named Isabella—really!), so there’s no reason not to visit this Boston gem, especially if you’re going to the MFA.

3. If you’re looking for newer art, the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art is for you. This sleek, ultramodern museum is in walking distance of both the World Trade Center and Courthouse T stops. Admission is $10 for students.

4. To see vintage poster art from around the world, visit the International Poster Gallery on Newbury St., just blocks away from the Copley T stop and in walking distance of the Commonwealth/Mass Ave. shuttle stop.

5. One of Boston’s oldest galleries, the Vose Gallery on Newbury Street was founded in 1841. The gallery houses the largest collection of American realism in New England, including contemporary realism. Check it out if you want to experience American art history.

6. Another gallery on Newbury is the Barbara Krakow gallery, one of Boston’s most prestigious collections of postmodern art. It features some of the most groundbreaking work in all media produced after 1945 and is known for its annual AIDS benefit auction.

7. Near the Copley T stop on Newbury is the Robert Klein gallery, a world-renowned collection of fine-art photography. The gallery also operates a satellite space in the Ars Libri bookshop at 500 Harrison Ave., near the Broadway T stop. If you’re a lover of photography, this is the place to go.

8. Nearby on Newbury is Gallery NAGA, a contemporary art gallery specializing in furniture. The fact that this is located in a neo-gothic cathedral is enough to make it worth your time to visit.

9. You’ll find the SoWa Artists Guild, the center of the SoWa Arts District, on Harrison Ave. The Artists Guild studios are open the first Friday of every month as well as every Sunday until November. Open studios are a great way to see the forefront of the Boston art scene in action, to meet artists and to get a taste of professional studio life.

10. Throughout the SoWa Arts District, you’ll find more than 30 art galleries (locations and hours are available on the SoWa website). In addition, the district hosts a number of art, food and vintage goods markets based around Harrison Ave. throughout the year on Sundays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

11. To see master works of fine art, look no further than Back Bay’s Galerie d’Orsay. Located less than a block from the Arlington T stop, the gallery is currently exhibiting contemporary masters, and will soon open an exhibit inspired by their namesake, Paris’ Musée d’Orsay.

12. MassArt has galleries all across its campus showcasing the contemporary work made by students, staff and others. The campus is in walking distance of the Ruggles T stop, making it accessible to students without a car. A complete guide to the many galleries on MassArt campus is available on their website, massart.edu.

13. If you’re on the lookout for Boston’s underground art scene, check out bostonartunderground.com for listings of upcoming local events and showings. This website has great tips on exhibits in unusual spots, but also lists gallery shows, making it a comprehensive resource.

14. You don’t even have to leave Brandeis to see great art. Brandeis’ own Rose Art Museum is located between the Shapiro Campus Center and the Spingold Theater Center and is free! The Rose is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and houses a collection of American contemporary art. This is a must-see for all Brandeis students, and be sure to look out for fun events and concerts at the Rose throughout the year.

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