Photos: The Making of Art in Bloom at the MFA
At 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning, a parade of flower-filled wagons wheeled into the Museum of Fine Arts. Heaps of orchids, roses, and ranunculus were whisked away into galleries by group after group of women. In just three hours, they’d make the flowers blossom into works of art.
From April 29 through May 1, the 41st annual Art in Bloom show will take over galleries throughout the MFA. It works like this: 50 local garden clubs are asked to create floral arrangements inspired by works of art in the museum. After receiving their art assignments, they’re given a few weeks to come up with a design. Then, they source flowers from the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea, bring them to the museum, and get to work. All 50 clubs—plus a handful of professional designers who set up outside the galleries—spend three hours bringing their art to life before the museum opens.
Designers are tasked with transporting all of their own supplies, which can include a wagon, buckets, and a mat. The only rule? No water allowed. Instead, the clubs work with Oasis: a green floral foam that supports and hydrates arrangements. Once they’re finished, a conservator inspects the flowers to ensure there are no threats to the surrounding artwork. Then the admiration commences.
“To me, it’s the most exciting creative process in the world—in a museum interpreting a museum piece,” says Betsy Currier of the Walnut Hill Garden Club in Hanover. Currier participated in the first Art in Bloom celebration more than four decades ago. Her advice to newbies? “I’ve learned that if you keep fussing at it, you stuff it.” she explains. “You gotta let it go.”
Here, get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this year’s Art in Bloom.
The Hills Garden Club of Wellesley rolls in their flowers with a traditional red wagon.
Larger wagons tote boxes of blooms.
Teams start by binding wax at the base of the arrangement.
Betsy Currier adds a stem of clematis to her creation.
The Garden Club of Back Bay starts with cherry blossoms in the Japanese Print Gallery.
The Belmont Garden Club puts the finishing touches on a colorful bouquet.
Plants were laid down on mats and tarps in the galleries.
The Danvers Garden Club displays an arrangement topped with lotus pods.
This arrangement imitates Jackson Pollock’s footed bowl, Flight of Man.
Most garden club teams are made up of two to three people.
Imitated works range from Dutch paintings to contemporary pieces.
Designers often pause to step backward and view their arrangement from afar.
Jamaica Plain’s New Leaf Flores builds a display in the Shapiro Family Courtyard.
Art in Bloom will be on view throughout the MFA from April 29 through May 1, 2017. See mfa.org for more information.