Whether you are just a visitor to the greater Boston area, or a permanent resident of Cambridge or Boston, checking out the art scene here is one thing that you don’t want to miss. Just look at Cambridge’s historical universities, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the colonial Old State House; the city itself is a work of art.
There are many different ways that you can view and experience art as a visitor to the city, or if you are just a resident with a free Sunday afternoon. There are tons of public art works throughout Cambridge and Boston available for your viewing pleasure at any time of day. The Cambridge Arts Council and the Boston Art Commission both list hundreds of permanent and temporary works around Boston and Cambridge, dating back to 1867. These statues, mosaics, murals, and sculptures are plentiful throughout the cities, and if you have the time to wander among these treats for the eye, you will not be disappointed.
If are looking to see lots of art in a short amount of time, a museum or gallery is where you want to go. The Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Harvard Art Museum are usually the favorites for visitors to the Boston area. Tickets to these museums are usually pretty pricey, but there are ways around admission prices. If you have a library card in the Boston or Cambridge area (this includes many towns surrounding Cambridge), you can reserve museum passes ahead of time to secure free or cheap admission for you and your family or friends. The Institute of Contemporary Art is free every Thursday from five to nine p.m., and the Museum of Fine Arts has at least one free admission day annually. Galleries are also abundant, and can be a more cost effective way to see many works in one space. Almost all have free admission, but you usually won’t be able to spend a whole day in a gallery like you would in a museum.
The most interactive, exciting, and entertaining way to view art is through a festival. What is nicer than letting your kids roam free, eating a hot dog (or for the more adventurous types, perhaps something delectable from the wide selection of international fare), breathing fresh air, and viewing beautiful art? The Cambridge River Festival is held in early June along a mile long stretch of the scenic Charles River; with visual, performing, and interactive art all available to the public for free, this event has an annual attendance of over 200,000 people. The Boston Arts Festival is held for three days in September, features over seventy Boston-based artists, and has a performance program on two stages showcasing the best performing arts groups and performers in Boston.