By Peter Schlesinger
February 14, 2014

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston today is opening a new exhibition, “Boston Loves Impressionism,” showcasing 30 masterpieces carefully curated by…the public.

To choose the artworks for display, the MFA held an online contest that saw a staggering 41,497 votes cast over three weeks in January. And with one of the world’s largest Impressionist collections at their disposal, voters had quite the challenge. Who were the winners?

Among the top 30 scorers are perennial favorites by Cassatt, Cézanne, and Pisarro, with first-place going to Van Gogh’s Houses at Auvers. Water Lilies from Monet and Degas’s charming Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer—the only sculpture in the running—round out the top three.

Other highlights include several Renoir paintings that had been living in storage for a while, and Caillebotte’s A Man at His Bath, which the museum just purchased in 2011. “It’s already found a place in Bostonians’ hearts,” says Beeny.

The idea for the crowd-sourced exhibition came from museum director Malcolm Rogers. With the permanent Impressionist galleries currently undergoing renovations, the show allows the MFA to keep some of its most cherished works on display and to give the public a sense of how decisions are made.

Emily Beeny, Assistant Curator of European Paintings, explains that the exhibition provides an opportunity for MFA visitors to explore the history of collecting Impressionism in Boston, which embraced the artistic movement well before critics in New York or even Paris did. “Bostonians were purchasing the works very early,” she says, with the world’s first non-commercial showing of Monet held in a local club in 1892.

The fondness for Monet has only grown—of the 30 works on display in the new exhibition, nearly half have his signature, garnering over 17,000 votes amongst them.

Fittingly, this exploration of Boston’s love affair with Impressionism opens on Valentine’s Day, and runs through May 26th. For more information, visit

Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team.