Reframing "American" Art

What makes American art, American? Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is offering a big new answer.

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First it was Dallas that took American art and dated it not from Pilgrims and European settlement but from the ancient civilizations of North, South and Central America. Then Los Angeles and museums across the country took up the new frame. 

Now, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has taken it to a new level. The city of Paul Revere and colonial Tea Party has shifted, in a breath-taking new display, from American Art to “Art of the Americas.” 

It’s the same shift American demographics are taking. It’s a shift in American identity. We look at the reframing of American art.

-Tom Ashbrook


Elliot Bostwick Davis, chair of the Art of America’s Department at the Museum of Fine Arts. Since 2001, she has led the museum’s planning for the installation of the new Art of the Americas wing. The Art of the Americas collection includes approximately 15,000 works. She is former assistant curator in the department of American paintings and sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Andrew McClellan, dean of Academic Affairs for Arts & Sciences and Professor of Art History at Tufts University and author of “Art Museum from Boullee to Bilbao” and “Art and its Publics: Museum Studies at the Millennium.”

See photos and video from the opening of the new “Art of the Americas” wing at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts:

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