With its most recent installation, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has invited the public to engage in the curatorial process and select its favorite Impressionist artworks.
A new exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has served as an opportunity to engage art lovers by allowing them an innovative level of control over the exhibition. “Boston Loves Impressionism” features a selection of paintings, works on paper, and one sculpture — all chosen from the museum’s permanent collection by public vote.
While organizing the exhibition, the MFA encouraged the public, especially those in Boston who would see the exhibition, to vote for their favorite Impressionist works, photos of which were posted on Facebook and on the museum’s website.

Claude Monet, “Water Lilies,” 1907, oil on canvas, 38 1/8 x 38 3/4 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bequest of Alexander Cochrane
From January 6-26, participants chose their favorite artworks from three distinct, themed groupings — “On the Water,” “From the Land,” and “Of the People” — composed of seascapes, landscapes and still life, and figurative paintings, respectively. The top 30 vote-getters from this crowd-sourcing effort comprise the exhibition “Boston Loves Impressionism,” on view now and viewable online via the museum’s Pinterest page.
The artists represented among Boston’s favorite 30 Impressionist artworks are the unquestioned giants of the movement (which is broadly interpreted to include the Post-Impressionists): Cézanne, Monet, Degas, Caillebotte, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Cassatt.

Edgar Degas, “Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer,” bronze, gauze, and satin, height 40 13/16 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Frederick Brown Fund and Contributions from William Claflin and William Emerson
Vincent Van Gogh’s “Houses at Auvers” received the most total votes at 4,464, while Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” came in second with 3,543. Edgar Degas’s iconic sculpture “Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer” took third place. These three masterworks receive a special installation at the entrance to the exhibition.
A crowd-sourced exhibition has the positive effect of engaging the art-interested public in a very tangible way, while the museum stands to benefit from the aesthetic tastes the process reveals. The popularity and critical fate of the MFA’s initial attempt may go a long way in determining whether other art institutions will take similar risks with their exhibitions in the future.
“Boston Loves Impressionism” will be on view through May 26. To learn more, visit www.mfa.org.


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