The Boston Center for the Arts, a self-proclaimed center of inspiration, exhibition, and entertainment, is an enchanting keystone of Boston's remarkable West Side. Combining several historically unique structures, the Center houses musical, visual, and performance exhibitions.
The BCA was born when the Boston Redevelopment Authority dedicated a four-acre parcel of land in the late 1960s as part of a movement to revitalize Boston's South End. The Cyclorama is the oldest and most historically rich building of this exquisite architectural grouping. Edwin Forbes originally constructed its cylindrical structure in 1884 to house the famous panoramic painting Battle of Gettysburg and is the Center's main source of revenue, hosting fundraisers, trade shows, and weddings. One Boston native recalls his first BCA event, the annual Artists' Ball; "The theme was Toulouse-Lautrec; we donned shiny shoes, walking canes and appropriate haberdashery to join some 200 of the local noteworthy socialites for a night of celebration and drinking."
The Tremont Estate originally functioned as an organ factory from the time of its construction in 1850 and is presently host to over 50 artists' studios, two rehearsal spaces, and 10 non-profit organizations. You can also find Hamersley's Bistro here, a cozy oasis nestled in the heart of this clandestine haven.
The Mills Gallery is the expositional backbone of the center. A contemporary visual arts space, it is host to a parade of fascinating attractions featuring trapeze artists, stilt walkers, and outlandishly dressed attendees. Generally, the Center stages five large-scale exhibitions each year with free admission. January 2010 finished up a brain-tickling exhibit called Strange Loops, designed to engage with the many ways our brains process and codify information, and challenging perceptions through a series of paintings, drawings, videos, and sculptures.
Always aglow with warm, spritely faces looking for an evening adventure, the Boston Center for the Arts teems with a distinctive charm worth investigating.
- Monday through Friday: 9am to 5pm
- Mills Gallery hours of operation: Wednesday & Sunday: 12pm to 5pm, Thursday through Saturday
- For ticket prices, event hours, and admission prices for specific events and performances, see the BCA's website.
- Subway Stop:
- Take the Orange line to Back Bay Station: Take the Clarendon Street exit and walk with traffic (Clarendon Street is one-way). Walk approximately 500 yards to Tremont Street. Take a left onto Tremont Street. The BCA is on the first block on the left.
- Location: 539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
- Phone: 617-426-5000
- Website: www.bcaonline.org