Exploring the Museum of Fine Arts with Context Travel

On Wednesday February 26th, I had the opportunity of attending a walking tour organized by Context Travel at the Museum of Fine Arts. For Context Travel, the walking tours are no larger than five or six people and are led by local experts in urban planning, architecture, art history or other related fields. My experience at the Museum of Fine Arts was led by Tricia, a long time docent there.

Exploring a building, a work of art, or the city, in context to its surroundings or the time it was created is central to the mission of Context Travel. Context Travel doesn’t organize tours, instead it creates narrative participatory experiences in twelve cities around the world, including Athens, Florence, Naples, Paris, New York, Philadelphia and most recently, Boston.

Part of that mission, is to “connect curious travelers with that priceless local knowledge.” Context’s walking tours are usually three hours long and are offered on a variety of topics and themes. In Boston, explorations include Beacon Hill, North End, and the artist John Singer Sargent and many more. Context Travel crafts tours “designed to help the erudite traveler appreciate and defend the city without overrunning it,” the tours are engaging, informative, interesting and fun.

Being a docent at Trinity Church, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, I can certainly relate to crafting an experience that will engage the visitor with the art work and architecture. I am very particular in making connections between art and architecture of Trinity Church in context to its surroundings and American history. This is an important detail that Context Travel emphasizes in all of its walks and seminars.

For the first two hours of the Museum of Fine Arts tour, the docent and attendees explored the new wing dedicated to American art. The last hour was dedicated to the European, Asian and Egyptian art galleries. Throughout the three hours, we stopped to discussed particular artworks and place them in context to other works in the museum, connected them to notable people as well as the city of Boston.

Exploring the museum for three hours with Context Travel proved to be a great experience primarily because I was exposed to works of arts that I either possessed very little knowledge of or have unintentionally overlooked because I was too engaged looking at other objects. I found the tour engaging and the docent was very approachable and welcoming.

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3 Comments

  1. Your tour sounded very enriching, the kind of tour I would want to go on. I would have liked you to go into more specific details about the art you saw, what the tour leaders said about it, what you learned from your experience with them.

    Reply
    • The leader is a seasoned tour guide at the MFA, so she knew very well her art! We looked at some sculptures by Randolph Rogers, specifically “Nydia, the Blind Girl From Pompeii”, and “Medea”. We also looked at a few of Copley’s and Sargent paintings as well as murals. We looked at some of the historic rooms as well as some Folk Art.

      Being an art historian and having spent countless hours at the MFA, I can’t say that what the docent said was wrong, because it wasn’t. I did learn some things about one models of Sargent, which I didn’t know. It was also great to get a highlight of the Asian and Egyptian galleries, something I’ve never done with a guide. But over all it is a great tour company, and I’ve heard positive things from other people as well.

      Reply
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