The Museum of Fine Arts will begin hosting a series of after-hours parties this fall, welcoming thousands of guests to its galleries for food and drink, hands-on activities, music and performances, and, of course, art.
The parties, called MFA Late Nites, “will highlight art and artists and partnerships that will create unexpected experiences in the museum,” said Katie Getchell, chief brand officer at the MFA. The events will take place Oct. 13, 2017, March 3, 2018, and May 12, 2018 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The museum expects up to 5,000 guests at each event, Getchell said.
“We’ll have a dozen different things or so going on in galleries throughout the museum throughout the course of the night,” she said.
The concept comes on the heels of four successful overnight programs that drew about 23,000 people total last year, Getchell said. The museum staff created this series based on feedback from thousands of guests who attended the overnight parties, she said.
“The overnights had such a huge response,” Getchell said. “It showed us that Boston is ready — wants, needs — some really exciting, thoughtful, thought-provoking, engaging, late-night activity. We’re excited to have the physical space and the content and the partners to do it. I think it’s a really exciting statement for and about Boston.”
The theme of the first event, in October, is Japanese art. The museum’s fall headline exhibition, “Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics,” opens to the public on Oct. 18, but MFA Late Nites guests will get to view it five days early — even before the VIP guests, Getchell said.
The exhibit will feature the work of contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, who has been compared to Andy Warhol and has collaborated with Pharrell and Kanye West. Murakami’s art will be paired with items from the museum’s renowned collection of Japanese art. For example, the 35-foot “Dragon and Clouds” by Soga Shohaku (1763), part of the MFA’s collection, will be shown alongside “Dragon in Clouds—Red Mutation” (2010), a Murakami piece inspired by it. Professor Nobuo Tsuji, a Japanese art historian, helped Murakami choose the pieces on view and will travel from Japan to Boston for the event, Getchell said. The exhibit runs through April 1.
“The pairings are absolutely wild,” Getchell said. “I’ve worked here for 25 years and know [the museum’s collection of Japanese art] well, and I’m all of a sudden looking at them differently myself.”
Late Nites guests on Oct. 13 will also get to take in performances by Urbanity Dance and music from a DJ, spotlight talks in the galleries, and a textile design challenge. There will be an area where guests can vote on their favorite among rival 19th-century Japanese artists Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Utagawa Kunisada, an activity by MIT Hacking Arts, and a rap slam in which hip-hop artists perform original music in a three-round slam poetry-style competition.
When guests get hungry, they’ll be able to head to five stations of Japanese street food ($7 each, $30 for all five stations) and wash it all down in the outdoor beer garden.
The themes of the second two parties are still being worked out, Getchell said.
A limited number of advance tickets to the first event will go on sale for $13 each on Sept. 14. Advance ticket sales will end on Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. After that, tickets will be sold at the door on Oct. 13, the night of the event, for $20. Guests can also buy a six-month trial membership, the MFA XPass, for $40 ($55 for two), which includes admission to the October and March MFA Late Nites events, as well as free museum admission from Oct. 1 to April 1. The pass also goes on sale on Sept. 14.