The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), located on Huntington Avenue in Boston Massachusetts, not only houses rare and extraordinary artifacts, but it also received one of thirteen prestigious 2011 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) International Awards for architectural excellence. The MFA was not always located where it is today; it was situated in Copley Square when the doors first opened in 1876, staying there up until the move to the current location in 1909.
By 1906, the institute had put forward architectural plans designed by Guy Lowell for a new location on Huntington Avenue. Lowell graduated from Harvard College in 1892 and received a degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1894. Lowell then received a diploma from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, in 1899. Some of his earliest commissions were the entranceways for Fenway Park and a lecture hall within Harvard, both taking place within 1902. Most of his works were noted for their restrained Italianate classicism. Throughout 1900 – 1913, Lowell was also a professor of historical landscape architecture at MIT. He was also the architect and landscape architect for the first Charles River dam, which was completed in 1910. He is most recognized for two buildings: the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which was seen as “a complex of stolid monumentality” (Oxford Press 1), and the New York State Supreme Court building.
Lowell designed the building with influences from classicism, which gives the building a monumental look. The murals on the rotunda are painted by the renowned artist John Singer Sargent. The large columns along the main entrance along Huntington Avenue have corinthian capitals, which have a lot of detail to catch bypassers’ eyes. The lot is located on a twelve acre plot of land on Huntington Avenue backing up to the Fenway, which was previously used as a rest stop for travelling circuses and rodeos. This area is now located near Harvard Medical School, Simmons College, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Northeastern University, Symphony Hall, and many more institutions. After construction of the new building, the process of moving 110,000 pieces of art from Copley square to the new Huntington Avenue location was completed by only two horse-drawn wagons travelling over bumpy and unforgiving roads.
The Museum of Fine Arts is now the fourth largest museum in the United States, at three times the size of its original Copley square location. It now holds more than 450,000 works of art. In 2010, the Art of the Americas wing opened, followed by the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art in 2011. There are currently 6 main exhibits in the MFA. It contains the Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania, the ancient world, contemporary art, and the art of the Americas exhibition, which is located in the newest expansion. It is currently one of the most comprehensive collections within the Americas. On average, more than one million visitors per year come in to get inspired, nurture their creativity, or view amazing pieces of craftsmanship and history.