There's something about seeing a great work of art in person that just can't compare to flipping through an art history textbook. Slender, rounded odalisques; bright, blocky still lifes; and riotous, paint-splattered canvases feel unreal and insubstantial until you actually stand in front of them. Then you are filled with the realization that each work was touched and crafted, lovingly or angrily, but always passionately, by a great artist. Sometimes, the shared space you inhabit with the work transports you to the time of its creation. You become a part of the artwork's long life as it manages to pass through unchanged; while changing everything around it. You may have this experience at one of three museums comprising the Harvard University Art Museums: the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum.
The Fogg Museum, the first of its siblings, was founded in 1895, and is probably the most traditional of the three. Well known for its collection of Western art in various mediums, its halls are filled with photographs, prints, drawings, sculptures and paintings by the likes of Cézanne, Degas, Manet, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, and van Gogh.
The Busch-Reisinger Museum was founded two years later in 1897 when Harvard University felt the need to find a special place to house their collection of Germanic art. It remains the only museum in North America of its kind, dedicated to the German-speaking countries of Central and Northern Europe.
Finally, there's the youngest, (but no less esteemed), Arthur M. Sackler Museum, famous for its extensive collection of Eastern, Byzantine and Mediterranean art. Here you can find exotic, ancient treasures such as Chinese jades and bronzes, Buddhist cave-temple sculptures, calligraphy, Korean ceramics, and Japanese woodblock prints. There are also pieces from Rome, Greece and Egypt, as well as significant Islamic and Indian works, some of which date back to the 8th century.
Together, the museums contain a comprehensive and formidable collection that's interesting, engrossing and fairly inexpensive to visit. To catch the best of all three museums, visit their Re-View exhibit of over 600 important works being shown together in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Stop by to experience art how it was meant to be seen: in person, not on a page.
- Tuesday through Saturday: 10am to 5pm
- Closed on national holidays
- General: $9
- Seniors: $7
- Students: $6
- Members, children under 18: Free
- Subway Stop:
- Red line to the Harvard Square stop
- Location: 485 Broadway, Cambridge, MA
- Phone: 617-495-9400
- Website: www.harvardartmuseums.org