On 18 November, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) opened the Center for Netherlandish Art (CNA), an innovative research center that aims to 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 a wide range of academic and public programs.
Centrally located on the ground floor of the MFA, 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 new facilities will serve as a hub for activities that draw connections across the museum’s resources and offerings. 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. The CNA was founded in 2017 through a landmark donation to the MFA from two families, Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie.
The CNA’s opening coincides with the MFA’s unveiling of seven newly renovated galleries for Dutch and Flemish art, which include a rotating space dedicated to presenting research developed at the CNA through collaborations with academic partners. The new galleries explore the rich visual culture of the Dutch Republic and Flanders during this time, 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 seventeenth century and significantly strengthened its representation of Flemish works from the period.
The museum announced on Twitter that Michaelina Wautier’s Five Senses series will be included in the new galleries. The series has not been on display for over three centuries and until now it’s whereabouts remained a mystery.
📣 #MichaelinaWautier‘s “The Five Senses” are making their first public appearance after 370 years!
Wautier was a successful painter in Brussels in the 17th century, yet she was omitted from art history—until recently. pic.twitter.com/jbNcnw1x2B
— Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (@mfaboston) November 18, 2021
The new installations were organized by Frederick Ilchman, Mrs. Russell W. Baker Curator of Paintings and Chair, Art of Europe; Antien Knaap, Assistant Curator of Paintings; Courtney Harris, Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture; Simona Di Nepi, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Curator of Judaica; Christopher Atkins, Van Otterloo–Weatherbie Director of the Center for Netherlandish Art; and Benjamin Weiss, Leonard A. Lauder Senior Curator of Visual Culture. More information about the individual galleries is available in the MFA’s press release.