Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Debuts New Dutch and Flemish Galleries, Launches Center for Netherlandish Art

On November 20, 2021, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), opens a suite of seven newly renovated galleries that explore the rich visual culture of the Dutch Republic and Flanders during the 17th century, bringing together nearly 100 paintings by the greatest masters—including Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Gerrit Dou, Frans Hals and Anthony van Dyck—in addition to works on paper and decorative arts such as silver and Delft ceramics. The new installations examine a variety of themes: women artists and patrons; the growth of the art market; and the unexpected connection between still life paintings, the sugar trade and slavery.

Many of the featured paintings are drawn from a 2017 gift from Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie, which elevated the MFA’s holdings into one of the country’s foremost collections of Dutch art from the 17th century and significantly strengthened its representation of Flemish works from the period. The installation features additional gifts and purchases: seven pictures from the collections of Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo, Maida and George Abrams and Kathleen and Martin Feldstein. Other highlights are a selection of Dutch medals from the Abrams Collection and a silver mounted coconut cup and a pair of silver tazze from the Van Otterloo Collection.

The landmark donation from the Van Otterloo and Weatherbie families also included endowment funds to establish the Center for Netherlandish Art (CNA), an innovative research center that will promote the study and appreciation of Dutch and Flemish art by stimulating interdisciplinary research and object-based learning, nurturing future generations of scholars and curators through a residency fellowship program, and hosting academic and public programs. Centrally located on the MFA’s ground floor, the newly constructed CNA houses a library of over 43,000 volumes that will open to the public by appointment starting in January 2022, offices for staff and scholars, and spaces for seminars and events. The CNA’s opening coincides with the Museum’s unveiling of the new Dutch and Flemish galleries, which include a rotating space dedicated to presenting research developed at the CNA through collaborations with academic partners. The Center’s activities will continue to ramp up over the coming months with a CNA Scholars Day in early 2022 and a series of public programs in the spring.