Five must-see summer art exhibitions in and around Boston

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Where to go and what to see for your fall design fix.


A 1906 image of Isabella Stewart Gardner reading a book. / Photo by Otto Rosenheim (Gardner, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston)

A Fascinating and Dangerous Quest: Isabella’s Book Collection

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum will host an event that will highlight its founder’s extensive collection of rare books. Gardner found hoarding books to be fun and challenging; this pursuit would eventually lead him to his passion for collecting art. In this program led by Anne-Marie Eze, Associate Librarian for Collections and Programs at Harvard University’s Houghton Library, new insights into the Museum‘s rare book collection will be revealed.

9/8, 25 Evans Way, Boston, 617-566-1401, gardnermuseum.org.

Boston International Fine Arts Fair

At this long-running fair held at the Cyclorama, 40 galleries will showcase their offerings, which span centuries and include an array of styles from Old Master to Contemporary. With some works that are really investment pieces, the show attracts serious collectors as well as casual art enthusiasts interested in the much more affordable works also available. A gala preview with live music kicks off the festivities, and the weekend-long event features special programs and speakers.

10/20–10/23, 539 Tremont St., Boston, 617-363-0405, fineartboston.com.

Gropius shines

Walter Gropius, famous modernist, founder of the Bauhaus and professor of architecture at Harvard, resided in Lincoln for many years. His clean-lined home blends art, technology and landscape and is run like a museum by Historic New England. It is particularly interesting to visit the residence on Saturday evening when it is open for demonstrations of Gropius’ innovative lighting system.

10/22, 11/5, 11/19 and 12/3, 68 Baker Bridge Road, Lincoln, 617-994-6651, historicnewengland.org.

School of the Museum of Fine Arts Art Sale

This annual sale is the school’s most anticipated event of the year. With pieces selected by a jury of artists, gallery owners and museum curators, don’t miss your chance to acquire new works inspired by students, professors, alumni and affiliated artists. The scope of work in the show represents a range of mediums that are not only visually appealing, but also thought-provoking.

4/11–6/11, 230 Fenway, Boston, 617-627-0013, smfa.tufts.edu.

Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts (Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley, oil on canvas, 2018, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

The Obama Portrait Tour

The MFA is the final leg of the nationwide tour of famous portraits of President Barack Obama, by Kehinde Wiley, and Mrs. Michelle Obama, by Amy Sherald. The artists are the first African Americans commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to create official portraits of a president and first lady. The US tour began in June 2021 and had previously stopped at the Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum and other institutions. The MFA will simultaneously present a crowdsourced exhibit, “Portraits of Leadership,” a collection of community portraits representing a wide range of leaders that will be displayed alongside portraits of Obama.

9/3–10/30, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-267-9300, mfa.org.

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