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A Guide to Boston’s Best Art Galleries and Museums near the BCEC & the Hynes

By Marah Adams

This fall, we had the pleasure of working with intern Marah Adams, a senior at the Sawyer Business School of Suffolk University. Marah had the chance to learn an enormous amount about the meetings industry, as well as the city of Boston. This week she shares with us a roundup featuring some of Boston’s best art galleries and museums.

In Boston, first-class convention facilities meet a world of culture and entertainment to provide your attendees with a well-rounded and truly unforgettable experience. Our city is famous for its unique historical sites, award-winning restaurants, legendary sports teams, and some of the finest cultural institutions in the country. In this week’s blog we spotlight some of the oldest art galleries, as well as a selection of modern museums to explore by yourself or with a group – all of them in close proximity to our convention centers.


Image by MFA via Instagram

Museum of Fine Arts Boston
With nearly 500,000 works of art and one of the largest Monet collections outside of France, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Boston will keep you amused for hours. You will learn about Boston’s rich history through the exhibit “Art of The Americas”, which features paintings of historic figures like Paul Revere (depicted above) and artifacts from Revolutionary-era Boston, as well as early colonial New England decorative arts. Additional notable exhibits are the Art of Europe, Art of Asia, Art of the Ancient World, Art of Africa, and Contemporary Art. And don’t worry if you can’t see it all in one go: general admission is priced at $25 and includes one free repeat visit within 10 days of purchase. Bring a group of ten or more to enjoy discounted admission with the option of a guided tour.


Image by ICA via Instagram

Institute of Contemporary Art Boston
Located in the trendy South Boston Waterfront, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is the perfect spot for modern art lovers. As part of their dynamic visual arts program, the ICA features major thematic exhibitions and new commissions by established and emerging contemporary artists. The museum’s featured exhibits change often and are incredibly popular, so don’t forget to snag tickets online before they sell out! One very unique feature of the ICA’s building to check out is “The Poss Family Mediatheque” room that is suspended from below the building’s cantilever. This room was designed to give viewers a horizon-less view of the Boston Harbor, meant to act as calming live art accompanied by interactive media. General admission is $15 and the museum is free to the public every Thursday from 5pm – 9pm.


Image by Gardner Museum via Instagram

Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum
The Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum is known for its beautiful courtyard that changes seasonally. The founder, Isabella Stuart Gardner, started off with a small personal collection of rare works of art she gathered from her travels abroad, which even included original Dante manuscripts. After acquiring a vast collection of extraordinary European, American, and Asian masterpieces, she built the museum on the Back Bay Fens in 1901. The museum officially opened in 1903 and gave the public the opportunity to appreciate one of the finest personal collections in the country. One chilling part of the museum’s history is that in March 1990, 13 works of art from artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Manet, and Degas, collectively worth $500 million, were stolen. This case remains the biggest unsolved art theft in world history. The museum keeps up empty frames where the missing works once hung to symbolize the hope for their return. General Admission is $15 and you can get $2 off if you bring your MFA ticket stub within two days of purchase!


Image by Vose Galleries

Vose Galleries
Founded in 1841 and passed down through six generations, Vose Galleries is the oldest family-owned art gallery in the country with the largest inventory of American realist paintings in New England. They have handled over 37,000 American paintings for sale in the past 300 years including 25 artists’ estates. Vose Galleries is located on historic Newbury Street in a classic Boston brownstone and has five floors dedicated to a variety of top quality 18th-century to early 20th-century realist paintings. The gallery is set up to make you feel at home with antiques and elegant furniture for you to unwind on while viewing the art. General admission is free.


Image by the Guild of Boston Artists via Instagram

The Guild of Boston Artists
Another gallery to visit on Newbury Street, in the heart of Boston’s Gallery district, is The Guild of Boston artists. Founded in 1914, it is the only nonprofit art gallery in Boston solely committed to exhibiting traditional painting and sculpture by living, emerging, and established New England artists. The President’s Gallery on the first floor is a room dedicated to those who have run the organization with a stunning skylight feature. They host artist demonstrations, workshops, social gatherings, and lectures to spark people’s interest in art and promote education. General admission is free.

SOWA Galleries
The SoWa Art + Design District is a vibrant community of artist studios, contemporary art galleries, boutiques, design showrooms, and restaurants unified by a passion for creating and curating exceptional artworks, products, and experiences. SOWA is home to over 200 working artists, 28 galleries (the largest concentration of contemporary art galleries in the city), and an incredible group of designers and makers dedicated to preserving and supporting artistic expression. SOWA hosts events like the SoWa First Fridays, SoWa Art Walk, and SoWa Open Studios where the public can explore the artists’ work spaces and view contemporary art in the making.


Image by Fenway Studios

Fenway Studios
Built in 1905 and located down the road from Fenway Park, the Fenway Studios is a National Historic Landmark and the oldest structure in the country solely dedicated to artists’ space. There are 46 studios with 12 foot high north facing windows that provide artists with a bright space to create exquisite works of art (the art is also available for purchase if you want to take home a unique souvenir). Fenway Studios hosts a free annual open house to give you the opportunity to explore the exclusive structure and get to know the brilliant local artists that reside in it. But, if you’re not around for that, there is an option to arrange a private tour throughout the year.


Image by Society of Arts & Crafts via Instagram

Society of Arts & Crafts
Established in 1897, the Society of Arts and Crafts has been at the forefront of the American craft movement for over 120 years. Their nonprofit gallery in the South Boston Waterfront features exciting installations of contemporary craft, and objects for your home and life. They also have an Artist in Residency studio where you can engage with their visiting artist, learn about various materials and techniques, support craftspeople through your purchases, and experience exciting events.

Looking for more things to do in Boston? Check out our guide of What To Do for shopping, dining, arts & music, historic landmark, and sports & entertainment suggestions. To give you a better idea of Boston’s make-up, also explore our guide to all the neighborhoods of Boston. Our Interactive Map will help you find the hotels, restaurants, and private event venues near our convention centers that are best suited for your group.