June Art Exhibits: Revisiting Venice


photo by Amelia Rossi
With hundreds of students spending the summer one semester on Dialogues of Civilizations, those students taking classes at the Boston campus may start to feel a bit envious of their friends’ global adventures. Luckily, the Boston museum scene has a line-up that will allow viewers to not only get a glimpse of a distant land, but also a distant time.

Two exhibitions that showcase works of art and literature from ancient Venice are coming to museums only a short walk from campus. Students in Boston will get to feast their eyes on original works of art crafted by some of the most famous, 18th century, Venetian artists. The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum have brought the allure and romanticism of Venice to Boston.

“The Invention of Fantasy: 18th Century Venice,” the summer exhibit at the MFA, is a collection of paintings and drawings that capture the mood of the city during that time. It was a time of abundance, refinement, and creativity, and the artistic world thrived during the time. But rather than feeling like a history lesson, the exhibit is a visual manifestation of the spirit of the time. The exhibit will be shown this summer from June 2nd to September 30th in Gallery 144.

The show goes beyond a simple representation of what life was like back then, it instills within its viewers that spirit of creative energy that inspired the artists to create such bold work added valuably to the artistic landscape. According to the MFA website, the work ranges from “Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s voluptuous painted cloudscapes with figures opened illusionistic light-filled vistas in ceilings,” to drawings “portraying remarkably playful and whimsical scenes of Venetian daily life.”

Another take on Venetian art and artifacts is now on display at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, located just a short walk from the MFA on Palace Road. The exhibit consists of beautifully, intricately decorated volumes that are part of Ms. Gardner’s collection of ancient Venetian books called Commissioni. This museum has a very distinctive setup, as the collection resides in the estate of the late Ms. Gardner herself. This exhibition highlights not only Ms. Gardner’s passion for collecting books but also her admiration of the city of Venice.

This collection, located in the museums Long Gallery, may not be a typical art gallery exhibition, nor originally designed as works of art, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t truly astounding spectacles. The exhibit goes much farther back into Venice’s history than the MFA exhibit—dating as far back as the seventh century C.E.

In addition to getting to view these ancient books that will only be on display for a limited time, the museum is also home to a café that has outdoor seating in the courtyard of the museum. Visitors can take a break from the heat while perusing the exhibit while also enjoying a snack in the freshly planted gardens that adorn the courtyard.

Both of these shows are only temporary, and so is the warm summer weather. Take advantage of both of these opportunities before they vanish and pay a visit to these exhibitions. Venice is waiting.