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MassArt Art Museum Announces Grand Opening Date, Exhibitions Details

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Boston’s Newest Art Museum Will Open on February 22, 2020

BOSTON – October 28, 2019 – MassArt Art Museum (MAAM), Boston’s newest contemporary art museum, has set its grand opening date for Saturday, February 22, 2020. The inaugural exhibitions in the museum will be the U.S. premiere of internationally-renowned artist Joana Vasconcelos; a group exhibition titled Game Changers: Video Games & Contemporary Art; and a site-specific installation by artist duo Ghost of a Dream.

MAAM, a non-collecting museum – or kunsthalle – will offer visitors free admission and programs, fulfilling its commitment to making contemporary art truly accessible to all.

“As a teaching museum, MAAM strives to showcase artists at all stages of their careers – from emerging to established – as well as diverse contemporary art practices,” said Lisa Tung, Executive Director of the museum. “MAAM is committed to educating and empowering the next generation of artists, both on campus and throughout the world.”

The recent renovation and expansion of the Bakalar & Paine Galleries as MassArt Art Museum was supported by MassArt’s UNBOUND capital campaign, which raised $12.5 million to fund the project. The museum will now be open year-round, and with expanded hours: Wednesday-Friday 12-6 pm; Thursday 12-8 pm; Saturday and Sunday 10 am-6 pm; and closed Monday and Tuesdays.


In 2004, Joana Vasconcelos started experimenting with a body of work named after Norse war goddesses – the Valkyries. Composed of various fabrics, fringe, pompoms, sequins, and LED lights that completely envelop and dominate the spaces they inhabit, the Valkyries have been named after influential and innovative women throughout history, literature, and popular culture.

(Left): Joana Vasconcelos. Valkyrie Mumbet, 2020. Three-dimensional rendering. Courtesy Unidade Infinita Projectos.. (Right): Joana Vasconcelos. Mary Poppins, 2010. Installation view: Palace of Versailles. Handmade woolen knitting and crochet, industrial knitted fabrics, ornaments, polystyrene, polyester, steel cables. Collection of the artist. Photo: Luís Vasconcelos/Courtesy Unidade Infinita Projetos.

To mark the grand opening of MAAM, Vasconcelos’ new Valkyrie commission, Valkyrie Mumbet, honors a courageous American – Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman – the first woman of African descent to sue for her freedom in Massachusetts and win, starting the chain of events that helped make slavery illegal in Massachusetts. The work will be tailored to fit exclusively in the MAAM space, highlighting the myriad possibilities of the new gallery’s 37 foot high ceiling and 40 foot wide second level art viewing balcony. These distinctive architectural attributes will allow visitors to see the work from different vantage points – beneath the sculpture from the gallery floor, and from over 20 feet high from the balcony. Valkyrie Mumbet will be created using many textiles, but predominantly capulana, colorful fabrics from Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony where Vasconcelos’ maternal family had settled. The use of this fabric serves as an acknowledgement of the role that Portugal played in the global slave trade.

Based in Lisbon, Joana Vasconcelos creates arresting, large-scale sculptures and installations that explore Portuguese culture and history, gender politics, identity, and contemporary life, with internationally celebrated work, having been shown in prestigious venues including the Venice Biennale, the Palace of Versailles in France, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain. Vasconcelos’ work has always been about (re)definition, beauty, humor, intervention, and engagement, validating women’s points of view and exposing societal roles and unspoken gender definitions.


Skawennati. She Gathers The Rain, 2018. Machinimagraph from Words Before All Else. Courtesy of the artist.

The Game Changers: Video Games & Contemporary Art exhibition features works by a group of artists (Paloma Dawkins, Cao Fei, Tracey Fullerton, Dan Hernandez, Nyamakop, MassArt professor Juan Obando, Momo Pixel, Skawennati and Brent Watanabe) who are creating at the confluence of contemporary art and video games.

This international roster of artists represents diverse themes and technological platforms, from console games to VR. Their art highlights under-explored narratives; pushes technological boundaries; and imagines alternative worlds through game aesthetics – pushing the boundaries for what game-related art can be and do. Several of the pieces in the exhibition are playable works (such as Juan Obando’s Pro Revolution Soccer, Nyamakop’s puzzle platformer Semblance, and Paloma Dawkins’ otherworldly games), while others are made in more traditional media: painting and sculpture.

The artists who have produced conceptual works share aesthetic sensibilities. Tracy Fullerton’s Walden looks into the past, while Skawennati’s Time Traveller™ looks both forward and back in time to explore indigenous histories and possible futures. Dan Hernandez’s 2D works are playful inventions that use art historical references and video game elements in unexpected ways, combining past and present. Momo Pixel’s work often incorporates pop art, social commentary, and explorations of black identity. Her Hair Nah! is a contemporary video game response to the perverse action of touching a Black woman’s hair without permission and the microaggression of assumed authority and ownership of black bodies. Cao Fei, Skawennati, and Brent Watanabe create machinima, cinematic works using existing games and online worlds, such as Second Life and Grand Theft Auto V, to create characters and tell stories in new ways.

As a group, the artists and works represented in Game Changers defy stereotypes about contemporary video game culture and creators, representing the expansion of possibilities beyond what’s often expected within the genre.

ON VIEW: FEBRUARY 22, 2020 – FEBRUARY 28, 2021

For the grand opening of MassArt Art Museum (MAAM), artist collective Ghost of a Dream will transform the new lobby with a site-specific installation titled Yesterday is Here. Ghost of a Dream’s artwork centers on people’s hopes and dreams, and is made from the ephemera they create in pursuit of those aspirations. In Yesterday is Here, the collective uses the past to imagine a new future for the Museum; the duo has cut up, combined, and spliced together images from over 30 years of exhibition catalogs and announcements from the MassArt Bakalar & Paine Galleries, to create a kaleidoscopic look through the history of the Galleries and create an experience that speaks to MAAM’s future.


About MassArt Art Museum

Opening February 2020, MassArt Art Museum (MAAM) is Boston’s newest free contemporary art museum. After extensive renovations, MAAM will open in the space formerly known as the Bakalar & Paine Galleries at the heart of MassArt’s campus on the Avenue of the Arts. MAAM will be a kunsthalle, or non-collecting museum, showing temporary exhibitions that feature the work of emerging and established artists to bring fresh, diverse perspectives to Boston. As MassArt’s teaching museum, MAAM will be a resource for MassArt students and faculty, educating students about contemporary art, partnering with faculty to support the curriculum, and preparing students for careers in the museum field. As an extension of the College’s public mission, the Museum will also be a vital resource to the community, offering a pathway to education in the arts and free, unique educational programming to Boston-area public schools and community groups. Always free, MAAM will be open year-round to the public. Follow MAAM at @maamboston on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. To learn more visit

About MassArt

Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) is a public, independent institution that prepares artists, designers, and educators from diverse backgrounds to shape communities, economies, and cultures for the common good. One of the top colleges of its kind in the United States since its founding in 1873, MassArt has built a legacy of leadership as the first freestanding public college of art and design in the country, and the nation’s first art school to grant a degree. The College offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate degrees in art, design, and art education, all taught by world-class faculty. MassArt is also home to MassArt Art Museum (MAAM), opening February 2020. Formerly the Bakalar & Paine Galleries, MAAM is MassArt’s free contemporary art museum, professionally curated to enrich the academic curriculum and make contemporary art an accessible experience for all. Among MassArt’s most accomplished alumni are designer Brian Collins, multimedia artist Sam Durant, art dealer Arne Glimcher, Oscar-winning set designer Nancy Haigh, visual artist and composer Christian Marclay, 2016 Project Runway winner Erin Robertson, interior and lifestyle designer Kelly Wearstler, and conceptual artist William Wegman. To learn more, please visit

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