Seeing Goya at the MFA

Mind you, this is a blog post with Goya’s name in the title but no pictures of his work because there was no photography in those galleries.

In the Rotunda

In the Rotunda

Dom had a work deadline on Tuesday and so he took his holiday on Thursday. It worked out quite nicely because we went to the Museum of Fine Arts and took in their current special exhibition of works by Francisco Goya. The Goya exhibition was excellent, even if we did have to rush through at the pace of a bored five year old. So much art, so little time.

Of course we also took in some other art as well. The first gallery you pass after the guard checks you into the museum is the musical instruments room. The children all wanted to go in. This collection has become a favorite since I purchased the MFA’s Musical Instruments ebook. They flip through the book all the time watching video clips and listening to audio clips and looking at the pictures. They could pick out all the familiar items in the collection. Fun.

Irish harps

Irish harps

musical instruments

musical instruments

This one was in the app!

This one was in the app!

Musical instruments!

Musical instruments!

After that Sophie wanted to go look at the jewelry collection, which is right next door to the musical instruments. Today the exhibit on display was Nubian jewelry and other small artifacts. Bella was quick to note the strong Egyptian influence. Two very happy girls, a rather bored and disgruntled Ben. I learned more about ancient Nubia than I ever knew, even though we only lingered a few minutes.

After that we did go straight to the Goya. The nice thing was the children recognized quite a few paintings there from various books we own and some postcards that are in a matching game they have. They found others to be intrigued by. We looked at tapestries too and a few of the drawings. But small black and white drawings hardly captivate when there are big paintings to compete. I wished I could go back by myself, sans kids, to really spend time with some of my favorite works.

I let the kids each pick out a postcard at the gift shop and bought a small book about Goya (but not the $50 exhibition catalogue. That was too pricey.) Also Bella found a cute little notebook that she fell in love with and I let her get it.

So then we had lunch in the cafeteria. With a brief stop to look at a video installation. Something British that alternated a clip of a gorgeous snowy owl– what caught Bella’s attention. She loves snowy owls– with a Land Rover being crushed. Which latter of course held the boys captivated.

Video art. The first half had a snowy owl. The second half was a Land Rover being crushed

Video art. The first half had a snowy owl. The second half was a Land Rover being crushed

The boys had pizza, the girls had chicken fingers and a hamburger. Dom and I had most excellent fish tacos. And Lucy had some of my rice and beans, a banana, and some french fries.

And of course on the way to and from the cafeteria we found some cool art installations to look at. More contemporary stuff: not only the video installations, but funky graffiti sculptures, shadow art and more.

Shadow art painted on the wall all down the halls.

Shadow art painted on the wall all down the halls.

Shadow art painted on the wall all down the halls.

Shadow art painted on the wall all down the halls.

"Do not touch."This sculpture was fascinating.

“Do not touch.”This sculpture was fascinating.

This sculpture was fascinating. Lucy was not impressed.

This sculpture was fascinating. Lucy was not impressed.

Peek a boo

Peek a boo

Peek a boo

Peek a boo

Peek a boo

Peek a boo

Is that a man falling from the ceiling?

Is that a man falling from the ceiling?

falling man

falling man

After that we went looking for the medieval and renaissance art. But took a detour through the American wing. Especially the John Singer Sargeant. And we looked at some later European art too. Just because.

Bella joins an art class

Bella joins an art class

Bella and Anthony listen to an art class

Bella and Anthony listen to an art class

Ben was disappointed. He wanted there to be more knights and fewer saints. Poor guy. We need to take a trip out to Worcester and look at the arms and armor exhibits. (It’s not that he dislikes looking at religious art, just that he really wanted some knights. That’s what Medieval means, right?)

But we did eventually find the kneeling knight, which I think is what he remembered.

Medieval knight

Medieval knight

Medieval chapel

Medieval chapel

Looking at a crucifix

Looking at a crucifix

We looked at some later European art too. And then peeked into a gallery with Egyptian art and one colossal statue of Juno, the largest classical statue in the US.

looking at colossal Juno

looking at colossal Juno

Looking at colossal Juno

Looking at colossal Juno

And then another gallery of Egyptian and Nubian art. Bella still gets very excited about Egyptian art. That makes me happy. I’m glad she hasn’t forgotten her first love.

Looking at inscriptions in an Egyptian funerary chapel

Looking at inscriptions in an Egyptian funerary chapel

Nubian column and king

Nubian column and king

And while we were waiting for the elevator we had a nice chat with a couple of curators who were transporting a cart of netsuke, they were going to be mounting them to exhibit in the Japanese gallery. The advantage of taking the elevator that is for both staff and guests is this kind of encounter.

Peeking out the window

Peeking out the window

Amazing how four hours at the museum seems like such a very, very long day when you are there with children. Though my feet were aching by the end too. I feel so very blessed that we live close enough to be able to take these trips to a world class museum and that my children are learning to really love art.

Leaving the museum

Leaving the museum

leaving the museum: one last look

leaving the museum: one last look

Boston street scene: find the children

Boston street scene: find the children

I’m going to do a second post with more of the art. This is getting unwieldy.

4 Responses to Seeing Goya at the MFA

  1. kim schildbach November 16, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Well, you have INSPIRED me to take my kids!

    I keep thinking…. “maybe when they are older…and quieter…..and and…..”.

    I just need to go.

    Thank you!

    • Melanie Bettinelli
      Melanie Bettinelli November 16, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

      Yes! Go. It does pay off if they are familiar with at least some of the works before they go. Most museums have at least some of their collection online. Look up a few pieces and look at them with the kids and then when they see them at the museum they will be old friends. Reading about an artist or two is fun too. That and we do keep our expectations low. Dom and I see only a fraction of what we want to see and never get to spend enough time on the exhibits. As soon as the kids get restless, we move on. But it’s so worth it!

  2. Kyra November 19, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    I need to get my kids to the AGO. We’ll prep first.

  3. Kyra November 19, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    Sorry- Art Gallery of Ontario. We’ll look up the website and looking for paintings first. It will be fun. And I’m told they have a kids’ art-making room. I’ve just been too chicken to take them.

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