Your Art Weekend: Boston

Your Art Weekend: Boston

This weekend we're leaving Brooklyn behind and spending a few days in Boston, catching exhibitions at four museums and stopping by some great restaurants (plus a brewery) along the way. Visiting the often-underrated Boston art scene is one of the best weekend getaways for someone looking to take a break from New York, and we've put together a guide for forty-eight hours of the best of what the city has to offer.


Take the Amtrak from Penn Station up to South Station in Boston in time to visit the Museum of Fine Arts, which is a great way to spend a Friday night. If you're there on the first weekend of the month, be sure to come for First Fridays, which features cocktails and music until 9:30pm. The MFA is somewhat analogous to the Met in New York (which is also an awesome place to be on a Friday night), with a broad collection of works from ancient Egyptian sculpture to contemporary painting. Some of our all-time favorite paintings are there, including John Singer Sargent's beautiful "The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit" and Paul Gauguin's masterpiece "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" It's the perfect first stop for an art weekend in Boston.

For a late dinner, we recommend Coppa -- a short Uber ride away -- a fun, modern take on Italian with wood-fired pizzas and some fantastic meat and cheese plates and that are perfect for a post-museum meal. 


On Saturday morning, head to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a house-museum that, like the Frick Collection in New York, showcases the personal collection and attitude of a single patron. The museum is famous for a massive 1990 heist, still unsolved, when thieves stole works including a Vermeer valued at two hundred million dollars. Several empty frames still hang on the museum's walls, waiting for the return of their paintings. The main courtyard filled with marble sculpture is definitely a highlight, and they're also showing a new exhibition of drawings by Renaissance sculptors, including Michelangelo. For lunch, stick around the ISG and eat at Cafe G, which might be the best museum restaurant we've ever come across. (Tip: Save your ticket stub from the MFA -- or wear Red Sox gear -- for a discount on admission to the museum.) 

In the afternoon, head to the Institute of Contemporary Art, housed in a gorgeous building, completed in 2006, right on the water in South Boston. It's not a huge museum, and the architecture sometimes trumps the contemporary art inside (you could draw a parallel to the New Museum here in New York), but it's always worth stopping by, especially if there's a temporary exhibition going on that speaks to you. 

From the ICA, it's a fifteen-minute walk down to the Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall. Sample some great Harpoon beers straight from the source with a tasting flight in the Beer Hall, and learn about the process with a brewery tour (one begins every twenty minutes on Saturdays until 6pm, and costs five dollars). Go for a giant warm pretzel while you're there!

For dinner, walk over to Row 34, an awesome seafood place that calls itself "a workingman's oyster bar" and features an awesome menu with a great beer list and a killer lobster roll. Get reservations in advance, because the place fills up fast on a Saturday night. 


On Sunday morning, head up to Cambridge and visit the Harvard Art Museums, a trio of collections (the Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger and the Sackler Museums) united in a building recently, gorgeously renovated by Renzo Piano. The collection covers a huge spectrum of Western art, including some serious gems from modern European painting legends like Monet and Picasso, as well as a David Smith sculpture called "Flight" that you could stare at so long you'll mis you're train home. They also have an innovative restoration project for their collection of Rothko murals, involving light projections designed to conserve the paint's original color and brilliance without altering the canvas. Unlike many other broad collections, the Harvard Museum isn't too overwhelming to take in during a single visit. In that way, it's a lot like Boston as a whole, which is both exciting and digestible in a way that New York is just too big to ever be. 

While you're in Cambridge, stop for a meal at Alden & Harlow, which was no doubt voted coolest restaurant on some list recently, and is a perfect spot for a weird, awesome brunch before heading back to South Station to catch the train home to New York. 

Photo credits: MFA Boston; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; ICA; Harpoon; Row 34; Harvard Art Museums.