Students across departments make the trip to Boston’s MFA

Although the school bus pulled up to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston a little bit later than expected this past Saturday, April 18, Italian, Spanish, and art history students alike gathered for a day sponsored by the Center for the Arts and Humanities. Ready to explore the museum and compete in a scavenger hunt, we had the added motivation of the glory that would come with a well-deserved victory (and the promised $15 iTunes gift cards).

We began our excursion to the museum with a light lunch in the museum’s café. It was a rare opportunity to socialize and discuss Colby’s efforts to provide students with colorful adventures into the art world of New England (and beyond—rumors are flying about plans for a trip to New York for Art and Art History majors in the upcoming academic year) with students across majors and class years.

After our luncheon, Paul D. and Marilyn Paganucci Assistant Professor of Italian Language and Literature Gianluca Rizzo of the Italian department instructed us to organize into teams and prepare for the scavenger hunt. My team, Shauna Yuan ’16, Taylor Schlicting ’16, Clara Nuckols ’18, and myself had quite the competitive edge; our two Bostonians led the group through the museum’s labyrinthine galleries with gusto. The clues  provided led us from one end of the museum to the other in search of a silver cup by renowned Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere; esoteric, religious, Renaissance-era paintings; a battered bust of the Greek poet Homer; a bold contemporary oil by American painter Kehinde Wiley; glossy black-and-white photographs by Gordon Parks; and finally, into the dim, muggy galleries filled with the masterful sketches of Leonardo da Vinci.

The works by Leonardo were the undeniable highlight of the trip—we were so privileged to see this temporary exhibition (which will be in Boston until June 14) and examine the Renaissance master’s meticulous studies. The works, executed in fading red chalk and faint silverpoint were far more indicative of Leonardo’s talent than the elusive and infamous Mona Lisa, which these days is too often viewed from the back of a sweaty, fanny-pack wearing crowd in the Louvre.

My team was lucky enough to win the scavenger hunt, and we were happy to take advantage of our early finish to explore some of the galleries we had missed.

After everyone had some free time to explore the darkened rooms that held Leonardo’s works, we were treated to a special tour of the Museum’s impressive cache of European art by Professor of Art Véronique Plesch. Her tour guided us through time and across artistic styles from Duccio di Buoninsegna’s proto-Renaissance religious works through the emergence of rationalized perspective and into the salon-style galleries featuring artists like El Greco and Nicolas Poussin. Her expertise was plain and her enthusiasm infectious as she lectured on the museum’s collection of dramatic Baroque works in the Caraveggesque school.

After some more free time to investigate the formidable collection, everyone exited the museum and filed back into the school bus in the mild spring sunshine, cheerfully discussing the works they had seen. Although the evening drive back home was long, we had been inspired and awed by the artworks we had seen. Hopefully, Colby will be impressed by the success of this trip and invest in more excursions to see art in the outside world. Although the Colby Museum of Art gives us some opportunities to use visual media to supplement our courses, we are too often caught in the Colby bubble when we should be intrepid enough to escape and take advantage of the other wonderful museums in New England.

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