Malcolm Rogers Has Left the Building

Which raises the question: Did he save the MFA? Or ruin it?

A Brief History of the MFA

malcolm rogers mfa boston

The MFA is chartered by a group of 12 Boston Brahmins, including Martin Brimmer, the museum’s first president.

malcolm rogers mfa boston

July 4, 1876
The original Copley Square location of the MFA opens.

malcolm rogers mfa boston

Perry T. Rathbone is appointed director. He spearheads a blockbuster era of crowd-pleasing exhibitions by Rembrandt, Cézanne, and Matisse.

The MFA closes its entrance on Huntington Avenue, ostensibly to save money. But the decision also implies that neighboring Roxbury residents are not welcome.

Three years before hiring Rogers, the MFA is running a $4.7 million deficit.

malcolm rogers mfa boston

The MFA board hires Rogers as director.

February 1995
Rogers makes layoffs to trim more than $3 million off the MFA’s $4.5 million deficit.

malcolm rogers mfa boston

Rogers reopens the doors on Huntington Avenue.

Rogers unexpectedly restructures the museum, eliminating 18 positions and creating 20 new ones. He also bucks tradition and organizes new “super” departments by geography rather than discipline.

malcolm rogers mfa boston

Rogers creates an internal diversity report and action plan that later leads to the purchase of 67 works of African-American art.

The MFA acquires the former Forsyth Institute, in the Fenway.

After raising $504 million, Rogers opens the Art of the Americas Wing and a new courtyard and café.

The endowment reaches $623.7 million, up from $180.6 million in 1994.

malcolm rogers mfa boston

Matthew Teitelbaum is appointed director of the MFA.


Photographs © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection, The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection and funds donated by Stephen Borkowski in honor of Jason Collins. © Kehinde Wiley Studio. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (John, 1st Baron Byron)