Museum of Fine Arts: Quilts and Color, Magna Carta, Roman Art

So today we took a field trip to the MFA. There were two special exhibitions we especially wanted to see: the Quilts and Color exhibit and the Magna Carta. Also we wanted to see the Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance galleries to catch up with our history studies. An ambitious program and I figured we wouldn’t see it all today, but since we got a new membership, there will be more museum trips.

We’ve decided that we will do two memberships a year. Last year was the MFA. This year we did the Museum of Science and the Zoo, which will both expire at the end of August. So it’s time to think about what memberships we want for the coming year. A year without the MFA was hard. We were very ready to go back.

Quilts and Color

The quilts were awesome. This is a collection that was assembled by a couple of artists who came to quilt collecting serendipitously, surprised at how sophisticated was the quilter’s use of color. The collection of Amish, Mennonite, and Pennsylvania Dutch quilts is breathtaking. The focus of the curator’s notes is all on the use of colors. Patrons were provided with color wheels to carry around. The quilts were also paired with various paintings and other more traditional art forms that had similar use of color and design.

As a quilter myself I appreciated the skill and artistry of the specific pieces. It was fun to also see them through the eyes of the kids and of Dom, who really got into the exhibit.

panorama of quilts

panorama of quilts

I loved Dom’s photos that capture something of the array of quilts.

talking quilts with Sophie and Lucy

talking quilts with Sophie and Lucy

barnraising quilt with black contrast and embroidery

barnraising quilt with black contrast and embroidery

This barnraising quilt was the first one the collectors discovered. They were stunned by “the knowledgeable application of color gradations in complex arrangements” within a traditional arrangement. And realized this quilt was a work of art, not merely something to keep you warm.

Looking at a double irish chain with Sophie, Ben, and Lucy

Looking at a double irish chain with Sophie, Ben, and Lucy

star with pomegranate trees quilt

star with pomegranate trees quilt

Mariner's Compass quilt

Mariner’s Compass quilt

Looking at a double Irish chain with Ben, Bella and Sophie

Looking at a double Irish chain with Ben, Bella and Sophie

The kids did seem to get into it.

The kids did seem to get into it.

barnraising quilt with white haired lady

barnraising quilt with white haired lady

This photo of the quilt with the lady’s head in the foreground is one of my favorites.

Chatting about quilts with Dom

Chatting about quilts with Dom

Star detail

Star detail

The colors and pattern on this one were captivating.

The colors and pattern on this one were captivating.

Barnraising quilt

Barnraising quilt

Log cabin quilt.

Log cabin quilt.

By the time we were done looking at the quilts (well, I wasn’t done, but the kids were) it was lunch time and so we headed off to eat, walking right past the gallery where the Magna Carta was. After lunch we had to backtrack all the way back to the other side of the museum. Oh well.

Magna Carta and related documents

Looking at the Declaration of Independence

Looking at the Declaration of Independence

The Magna Carta was paired with other documents, notably the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the US and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. There was a broadside of the Declaration printed in 1776 and manuscript pages by John Hancock and Samuel Adams (I think.)

Sophie with declaration of independence

Discussing the Magna Carta with Bella. That's it in the case behind Bella.

Discussing the Magna Carta with Bella. That’s it in the case behind Bella.

The Magna Carta was surprisingly white. Not as yellowed as I’d have expected an 800 year old parchment to be. It also looked like it had been folded and it had some small holes at the bottom. I didn’t get nearly enough time to examine it since I was holding a squirming toddler and there were crowds of people. Still, it was pretty cool. And tied into Bella’s history, since we read about it in her book this spring. We’ll get to the American Revolution in the fall.

American Art

We didn’t set out to see the American art, but we wandered through the galleries anyway. A favorite stop was this red room. Also, the model ships.

The painting Bella is pointing at is of this same room with this same statue.

The painting Bella is pointing at is of this same room with this same statue.

This is the point of view found in the painting.

This is the point of view found in the painting.

Bella is captivated. She remembers this statue and painting pair from two years ago.

Bella is captivated. She remembers this statue and painting pair from two years ago.

Lucy takes off

Lucy takes off

European Art

A brief stroll past some Medieval and Renaissance pieces. We need to go back and give them proper attention.

Fra Angelico Madonna and Child

Fra Angelico Madonna and Child

Botticelli's Virgin and Child and St. John the Baptist.

Botticelli’s Virgin and Child and St. John the Baptist.

Spanish knight kneeling. Unknown subject, unknown artist.

Spanish knight kneeling. Unknown subject, unknown artist.

Yesterday Bella and I spent almost an hour reading about the development of medieval armor. All sorts of technical details about construction, nomenclature, etc. Today we examined this statue of a praying knight wearing armor. We were delighted to note the details of the chain mail, buckles, rivets, and hinges on the armor, etc. I’d seen the statue several times before and sort of halfway noted them, but this time those details popped.

Roman art

Even though we covered the Romans in the spring of 2013, we never had got to the MFA to see their collection. So we had to go take a peek. Sadly, it was the end of the day and we were all getting tired. But Bella was still impressive in her ability to recall details and see where things fit. She identified statues of Hercules and Athena and many other motifs. She enjoyed the mosaics and frescos and coins and sculptures very much.

A video playing, explaining the mosaic with footage of the archaeologists excavating it and of preservation and installation and transfer to a different museum. Sadly, we didn't have time to watch the whole film.

A video playing, explaining the mosaic with footage of the archaeologists excavating it and of preservation and installation and transfer to a different museum. Sadly, we didn’t have time to watch the whole film.

In the Roman statuary room. Bella correctly identified this as Athena

In the Roman statuary room. Bella correctly identified this as Athena

The room of Roman currency was well done. There were lighted cases with stools in front and magnifying glasses on rails. This is a Roman coin memorializing the Jewish revolt in Jerusalem in AD 90.

The room of Roman currency was well done. There were lighted cases with stools in front and magnifying glasses on rails. This is a Roman coin memorializing the Jewish revolt in Jerusalem in AD 90.

Roman coin with Jerusalem Temple

Roman coin with Jerusalem Temple

Dom really liked the coins. His parents used to own a coin shop when he was a boy. It’s a lifelong interest, I guess.

Little Lucy did pretty well. I’d hoped she might nap in the stroller, but no such luck. she was awake and kicking the whole time. And no, kicking is not figurative. But she wasn’t bad, just energetic. And in the gift shop she found a little set of quilt magnets that I bought. Turns out the brand name was Lucy Lu. And now that I’ve put them up on the fridge, she defends them against all comers. Make no mistake they are her magnets.

Lucy and me.

Lucy and me.

This morning as we were getting ready to leave Lucy told me, “Don’t say that me.” She is a very decided little person.

Anthony and Lucy and Ben all survived the museum pretty well. It isn’t their favorite place, but they made it through without any major incidents. I call that success.

3 Responses to Museum of Fine Arts: Quilts and Color, Magna Carta, Roman Art

  1. Mary July 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    I LOVE that picture of you and her walking down the corridor! So precious. And being the youngest of five, she probably knows she has to be decisive to hold her own!

  2. Ellie July 12, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    I always love your museum posts. So much fun to see the kids absorbed — lucky little ones to have these opportunities! — and fun to to get glimpses into the displays 🙂

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  1. How to visit Boston's museums with your family on a budget - Bettnet.com - April 20, 2017

    […] top-notch special exhibitions, like the Samurai exhibit, the Audubon paintings, and yes, even the quilts that we spent two hours looking at. Of course, we did get to see the special Magna Carta exhibition […]

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