By Sculpted by Cyrus E. Dallin; I took this photograph. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

May 14, 2018;

Do you see yourself here?

When we think of a museum doing outreach to communities who may not see themselves as connected to it, we rarely think about the kind of event put forth by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston yesterday, as it hosted its first-ever naturalization ceremony to swear in 187 new citizens.

In the Shapiro Family Courtyard, in front of the “Art of the Americas” wing, soon-to-be-citizens from 57 countries gathered to attend the program and experience a welcome they will no doubt forever remember and associate with the institution. They will, in other words, understand that the museum is connecting itself to them not primarily seeking their connection to it.

“One of the great challenges for museums is to be truly welcoming and to say to everybody, you belong here,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, the Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA. “My wish is that you always feel that the Museum of Fine Arts Boston is your home. That you feel welcome here, you feel invited here, you feel engaged in what we do.”

Teitelbaum is, himself, the grandson of immigrants.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler, who presided over the ceremony, said the museum was a place that connected many cultures. “The Egyptian collection, the great Japanese collection, the French impressionists, the Dutch Golden Age. You can wander through this museum and I trust most everyone will find a connection.”—Ruth McCambridge