Antonio Lopez Garcia, Atlantic Books Today, Boston, Elizabeth Waterston, Guy Lowell, L.C. Page, L.M. Montgomery, Mary Henley Rubio, MFA, MFA Art of the Americas wing, Museum of Fine Arts, Oxford University Press
My recent trip to one of my favourite places in Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, reminded me of L.M. Montgomery’s (brief) description of her first experience of the Museum during a trip to Boston to meet her publisher, L.C. Page, in November 1910: “Mrs. Page, the Marcones and I spent the day in the new Museum of Fine Arts. It was a wonderful day—but it should have been a week instead of a day. I had no time to study anything—I could only look and pass on.” I expect many people feel this way about the MFA, or indeed any great art museum—I certainly did a few years ago when I had only an hour and a half to see the brand new Art of the Americas wing at the MFA before leaving for Halifax.
“And there was so much to look at—I wanted to stand for an hour before everything and absorb it,” Montgomery continues. “The collection of Japanese pottery was marvelous—the amber room was a delight beyond words; the Egyptian department was wonderful and the Greek Statues were—Greek statues. And as for the paintings—but I cannot write about them. I had seen engravings of most of them but to see the pictures themselves was a revelation.”
When Montgomery visited, the MFA had just moved from its original location in Copley Square, where it had been since its founding in 1876, to its current location on Huntington Avenue. The Beaux Arts building was designed by Guy Lowell and opened in November 1909. The Fenway entrance, and the giant baby heads by Antonio Lopez Garcia, were far in the future. One can only imagine what Montgomery would have thought of the sculptures that now greet visitors to the MFA.
Quotations are from The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, 1901-1911, ed. Mary Henley Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston (Oxford University Press, 2013). You can read my review of the book on page 33 of the Fall 2013 edition of Atlantic Books Today.
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