MFA Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Free Open House


On Monday, January 18, 2016, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), invites the community to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with free admission and a variety of programs that explore equality and social justice through art, sponsored by Citizens Bank.

The annual Open House runs from 10 am to 4:45 pm, and offers gallery tours of works by artists of color, a story hour, art-making activities and musical performances for families and community members of all ages. Programs throughout the free day include the creation of a large mosaic led by the MFA’s Teen Arts Council (TAC)—a leadership development program serving to connect the MFA with Greater Boston’s teens, families and communities. TAC members will ask MFA visitors these questions: “What is equality?” “What is your dream?” and “How can we change the world?” Answers will be incorporated into a large-scale mural, on display in the Druker Family Pavilion in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art.

Visitors can follow the mosaic’s progress and check for updates on all of the day’s activities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and by using the hashtag #MLKDay.

“Dr. King’s messages of tolerance, justice and equality resonate today more than ever,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director at the MFA. “With this Open House, we welcome the community to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy and explore the Museum together, discovering and discussing different cultures and perspectives through art. We’re grateful for the generous support of Citizens Bank, which has made this event possible for so many years.”

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection, visitors have the opportunity to learn about the origins of the Fund and its goals, and tour works acquired through it. The Heritage Fund provides acquisition funds for works by American artists of color, along with other art that broadens the visitor experience by presenting a more complete record of American culture. Additionally, visitors can weave their own unique yarn square to add to a community quilt and enjoy special musical performances by George Russell Jr. & Co. exploring the rise and changing roles of music in the African-American community.

For more than a decade, Citizens Bank has celebrated MLK Day by generously offering free admission to the MFA for all visitors. Since 2003, nearly 90,000 visitors have enjoyed special MLK Day programming and exhibitions.

“At Citizens Bank we believe in giving back to the communities where we live and work, that is why we are proud to support the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as they celebrate Dr. King’s legacy,” said Quincy Miller, President of Citizens Bank, Massachusetts. “We remain inspired by Dr. King’s mission and values and I encourage everyone in the community to come and experience all the great activities the open house has to offer.”

The special Community Arts Initiative Partner Spotlight on view in the Shapiro Family Courtyard highlights works of art created for the MLK Day Open House by students from the MFA’s Community Arts Initiative partners. Through the Community Arts Initiative, the MFA has fostered long-standing partnerships with Boston non-profit organizations to introduce youth to the Museum’s collections and the art-making process when they’re not in school, while also helping them understand the important role art plays in their lives. The MFA currently partners with 10 community organizations, including five Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston located in Blue Hill, Charlestown, Chelsea, Roxbury, and South Boston; Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester; West End House Boys & Girls Club of Allston-Brighton; United South End Settlements (USES); Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC); and Vine Street Community Center. Together with these partners, through sustained, engaging programs such as art making sessions in the clubhouses, visits to the MFA, and guided tours of the Museum’s galleries, the MFA has impacted the lives of over 38,000 children. Family nights, scholarships for studio art programs, and Museum memberships provide additional ways for these students and their families to make the MFA a part of their lives.

The free day also marks the final opportunity for visitors to experience the critically acclaimed exhibition Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer, a groundbreaking exploration of the ways in which paintings represent the various socioeconomic groups of the new Dutch Republic. 

The MFA’s 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration is one of five free Open Houses held at the MFA annually, along with Lunar New Year (Saturday, February 6), Memorial Day Open House (Monday, May 30), Highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Friday (summer date TBD), and Fall Open House (Monday, October 10).

Schedule of MLK Day Activities

Free unless otherwise noted

Special Events

Community Arts Initiative Partner Spotlight

Shapiro Family Courtyard; 10 am–4:45 pm

Students from the Museum’s ten Community Arts Initiative partners commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through collaborative works of art made for the open house.

Story Hour

Gallery 171, 11 am–Noon

Drop-in to enjoy stories about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., community and collaboration. Stay for one story or the whole hour; great for toddlers.

George Russell Jr. & Co.: Clap Your Hands

Remis Auditorium; 1-1:45 and 3-3:45 pm

African-American music (spirituals, folk-blues, and gospel) has profoundly influenced both musical and political movements throughout our nation’s history. Clap Your Hands explores the rise and changing roles of music in the African-American community: as a mental release during trying times, a vehicle for communication in the Underground Railroad, and a “common ground” during the Civil Rights Movement. A talented ensemble led by celebrated pianist and Berklee College of Music professor, George Russell, Jr., explores one of America’s most popular musical genres, by highlighting its various styles throughout history. George Russell and his group feature everything from the Thomas Dorsey spirituals of the 1930s to the 1960s hit “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers.

Free performance tickets are available at starting one hour before show times. First come, first served; limited availability. Free ticket required for entry.

Tours and Talks

Family Art Walks

Meet at Sharf Visitor Center; 10:15, 10:30, 10:45, 11, 11:15, 11:30, 11:45 am and Noon

Explore the Museum on the 30-minute kid-friendly tour with one of our museum educators.

ASL interpretation at noon.

Highlight Tours: The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection

11 am, Noon, 1, 2, and 3 pm (ASL interpretation at 11am); Meet at Sharf Visitor Center

2:30 pm American Sign Language Tour, no English interpretation; Meet at Sharf Visitor Center

3:30 pm Spanish Language Tour; Meet at Sharf Visitor Center

The Heritage Fund provides acquisition funds for works by American artists of color, broadly defined, and other art that broadens the visitor experience by presenting a more complete record of American culture. Since its inception, The Heritage Fund has supported the purchase of numerous works. Learn about some of these acquisition highlights, the fund’s goals and origins, and celebrate its tenth anniversary on a 45-minute tour for adults led by Museum-trained guides.

Feeling For Form Tours

Meet at the Group Entrance, 162; 10:30 and 11:30 am

Join this “Inside – Outside Sculpture,” a contemporary art tour highlighting works from the MFA’s collection. This is a touch and descriptive tour for visitors who are blind or have low vision.

MFA Guide

Available at all ticket desks, Sharf Visitor Center, and Gund Gallery (LG31)

Rent a mobile MFA Guide to explore the Museum’s collections, including an African American artists tour and a Kids’ mobile tour introducing young visitors age six to ten to the Art of the Americas and Contemporary collections.

Members $5; Nonmembers $6; Kids 17 and under $4. Free for visitors who are deaf or blind.

Art-Making Activities

Collaborative Quilt

Shapiro Family Courtyard; 10 am—4 pm

Martin Luther King Jr. often collaborated with other leaders on many projects. Work collaboratively and weave your own unique yarn square to add to a community quilt. This quilt will be displayed throughout the week in the art studio.

ASL Interpretation 1:30-3 pm.

Community Portraits

Education Center in Druker Family Pavilion, Room 159; 10 am—4 pm

Visit Gallery 261 to marvel at the portrait painted by Kehinde Wiley, John, 1st Baron Byron. Wiley frequently paints portraits of people from his community. Return to the art studio to paint your own portrait, as you are a part of our MFA community!

ASL Interpretation 1:30-3 pm.

Visionary Mosaics

Education Center in Druker Family Pavilion, Room 160; 10 am—4 pm

Join the Teen Arts Council to create a colossal group mosaic. Visitors of all ages are invited to drop by anytime during the day to respond to the questions: “What is equality?” “What is your dream?” and “How can we make the world a better place?” The answers of many will create a collaborative mosaic.

Family Art Cart

Shapiro Family Courtyard, 10 am–4 pm

Choose from activities designed to guide you through the galleries with fun facts, scavenger hunts, games, and more. Art Cards are available with tactile graphics, large print and Braille.

Available every Saturday and Sunday through June in the Shapiro Family Courtyard from 10 am-4 pm.

Open house programming made possible in part by The Lowell Institute.

The Community Arts Initiative is generously supported by the Linde Family Foundation.

The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Teen Arts Council is funded by the Yawkey Foundations, the Pamela D. and Robert. W. Adams Fund, the Dorothy B. and Owen W. Robbins Teen Arts Council Fund, Robert E. Schiesske, the Dean Welfare Trust, the William E. Schrafft Charitable Trust, the Endowment for the Teen Arts Council, and the Paul and Edith Babson Foundation. With special thanks to Richard and Priscilla Hunt for their generous support. Sponsored by John Hancock.

Free Fun Friday is made possible through the support of the Highland Street Foundation.

The Family Art Cart is made possible with endowment support from the Germeshausen Foundation Fund for Youth and Family Learning and the John and Dorothy Wilson Fund. Additional support for Art connections Activity Cards made possible by Arthur R. Hilsinger and Barbara J. Janson.

MFA Guide: Art of the Americas content is made possible through the generous support of the John W. Henry Family Foundation; Art of Ancient Greece and Rome content is made possible through the generous support of the Barrington Foundation, Inc.; and musical instruments content is generously provided by the MFA Visiting Committee for Musical Instruments and the David L. Fishman Fund.

Bank of America Access Program with additional support from the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation and the Maida S. Abrams Fund for Increasing Access and Educational Opportunities for People with Disabilities.

Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer is presented with generous support from the Committee of Honor and the Robert Lehman Foundation. Additional support provided by the Netherland-America Foundation and an anonymous foundation. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Media sponsor is WCVB Boston.

About Citizens Financial Group, Inc.

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $135.4 billion in assets as of September 30, 2015. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle‐market companies, large corporations and institutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens helps its retail customers “bank better” with mobile and online banking, a 24/7 customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 3,200 ATMs and approximately 1,200 Citizens Bank branches in 11 states in the New England, Mid‐Atlantic and Midwest regions. Citizens also provides mortgage lending, auto lending, student lending and commercial banking services in select markets nationwide. In Commercial Banking, Citizens offers corporate, institutional and not‐for‐profit clients a full range of wholesale banking products and services including lending and deposits, capital markets, treasury services, foreign exchange and interest hedging, leasing and asset finance, specialty finance and trade finance.

Citizens operates through its subsidiaries Citizens Bank, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. Additional information about Citizens and its full line of products and services can be found at

About the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its collection, which includes an estimated 500,000 objects. The Museum has more than 140 galleries displaying its encyclopedic collection, which includes Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa; Art of the Ancient World; Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. Open seven days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 am–4:45 pm; and Wednesday through Friday, 10 am–9:45 pm Admission (which includes one repeat visit within 10 days) is $25 for adults and $23 for seniors and students age 18 and older, and includes entry to all galleries and special exhibitions. Admission is free for University Members and youths age 17 and younger on weekdays after 3 pm, weekends, and Boston Public Schools holidays; otherwise $10. Wednesday nights after 4 pm admission is by voluntary contribution (suggested donation $25). MFA Members are always admitted for free. The Museum’s mobile MFA Guide is available at ticket desks and the Sharf Visitor Center for $5, members; $6, non-members; and $4, youths. The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Patriots’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For more information, visit or call 617.267.9300. The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.

Photo By: 

Artwork created by students from the MFA’s Community Arts Initiative partners.

Monday, January 18, 2016, from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.