"Boston Loves Impressionism" Marks MFA's First Crowdsourced Exhibition

  • January 02, 2014 12:50

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Water Lilies, 1907, Claude Monet. One of 17 “On the Water” works eligible for selection in the MFA's crowdsourced exhibition "Boston Loves Impressionism."
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


For the first time ever, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), invites the public to choose their most-loved Impressionist works for a special exhibition, Boston Loves Impressionism.
From January 6–26, 2014, participants can “Share the Love” at mfa.org/sharethelove and on Facebook by selecting their favorite MFA works from a different themed group each week—“On the Water” (seascapes), “From the Land” (landscapes and still lifes) and “Of the People” (portraits).
Offering the public a selection of 50 works from the MFA’s Impressionist collection, choices include masterpieces by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Gustave Caillebotte. The top 30 picks will be displayed in a special exhibition opening Valentine’s Day weekend in the MFA’s Lois and Michael Torf Gallery, with the public’s “Top 10 Favorites” highlighted by a heart on the wall label.
Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director at the MFA, came up with the idea to let the public select works for an exhibition while the MFA’s Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery of European Impressionism undergoes renovations. The choice is entirely up to voters. 
Rogers said, “This is the first time we’ve ever presented an exhibition selected by the public. Boston has long loved Impressionism, and voters have the opportunity to write the next chapter in the story of Boston’s passion for the artistic movement that has played such an important role in the MFA’s history.”
From January 6-29, mfa.org and the Museum’s Facebook page will direct fans to vote for their favorite Impressionist works from the MFA’s collection. Museum visitors can also access voting through their mobile phones by scanning heart-shaped QR codes found throughout the building.
Participants may vote once a day. Each week, participants will be served a new selection of works, and the 30 top vote getters will earn a spot in the exhibition.  Then, the top 10 will be part of a finals round of the best works. After voting ends, Museum curators and designers will have just two weeks to install the exhibition and tell the story of Impressionism. On Valentine’s Day weekend, the exhibition—and the public’s favorite Impressionist works––will be revealed.  Fans who cast a vote will be emailed an invitation for two to the exhibition.
Share the Love and Cast a Vote Timeline:
Monday, January 6–Sunday, January 12: 
The first category is “On the Water,” offering 17 waterscapes for the public to choose
Monday, January 13–Sunday, January 19
Voting for “From the Land” (17 landscapes and still lifes)
Monday, January 20–Sunday, January 26
Voting for “Of the People” (16 figures and portraits)
Monday, January 27–Wednesday, January 29
Final round: the Top 10 vote getters, from the previous three weeks, compete
Friday, February 14
Exhibition opens and fans that voted receive free admission
Saturday and Sunday, February 15 and 16
Special Valentine’s Day weekend activities for fans that voted
In the “On the Water” category, the 17 seascapes and water views include Monet’s famed Water Lilies (1907), Vincent Van Gogh’s Houses at Auvers (1853–1890) and Alfred Sisley’s La Croix Blanche at Saint-Mammès (1884).
The category “From the Land” includes 17 paintings of landscapes and still lifes such as Caillebotte’s Fruit Displayed on a Stand (about 1881-82), Paul Cézanne’s Fruit and a Jug on a Table (about 1890-4) and Camille Pissarro’s Pontoise, the Road to Gisors in Winter (1873).
“Of the People” will include 16 portraits and figure paintings, such as Woman with a Parasol (about 1874-76) by Renoir, Racehorses at Longchamp (1871) by Degas and In the Loge (1878) by American Mary Cassatt. The Top 10 vote getters from across the three categories will then be served up for a final round—and ranked from 1–10—during the final three days of voting. The Top Three most popular works will earn a place of honor at the entrance of the exhibition.
At the conclusion of the exhibition, curators will install a small selection of Impressionist works from private collectors.
“This project presents a unique opportunity both to engage the public in a new way and to share the extraordinary story of the Museum’s Impressionist collection,” said Emily Beeny, the MFA’s Assistant Curator, Paintings, Art of Europe. “Chosen once by the collectors, dealers, curators and directors who brought them to Boston, and now chosen again by online voters, the works included in this show promise to provide a glimpse into the history of the city and a snapshot of its taste today.”


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