Five Must-See Summer Art Exhibitions in and Around Boston

Where to go and what to see for your fall design fix.

A 1906 image of Isabella Stewart Gardner reading a book. / Photo by Otto Rosenheim (Gardner, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston)

A Fascinating and Dangerous Pursuit: Isabella’s Book Collection

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum will host an event that sheds light on its founder’s vast collection of rare books. Gardner found accumulating books to be a pleasure and a challenge; this pursuit would ultimately lead to her passion for collecting works of art. In this program led by Anne-Marie Eze, associate librarian for collections and programs at Harvard University’s Houghton Library, new insights into the Museum’s rare book collection will be revealed.

9/8, 25 Evans Way, Boston, 617-566-1401,

Boston International Fine Art Show

At this long-running show held at the Cyclorama, 40 galleries will showcase their offerings, which span centuries and include an array of styles from old master to contemporary. With some works that truly are investment pieces, the show draws serious collectors along with casual art aficionados interested in the much more affordable works also available. A gala preview with live music kicks off the festivities, and the weekend-long event features special programs and speakers.

10/20–10/23, 539 Tremont St., Boston, 617-363-0405,

Gropius Glows

Famed modernist, Bauhaus founder, and Harvard architecture professor Walter Gropius resided in Lincoln for many years. His clean-lined home unites art, technology, and the landscape and is run as a museum by Historic New England. It’s especially insightful to visit the residence on Saturday evenings when it is open for demonstrations of Gropius’s innovative lighting scheme.

10/22, 11/5, 11/19, and 12/3, 68 Baker Bridge Rd., Lincoln, 617-994-6651,

School of the Museum of Fine Arts Art Sale

This annual sale is the school’s most anticipated event of the year. With curated pieces selected by a jury of artists, gallerists, and museum curators, don’t miss your chance to acquire inspired new works by students, faculty, alumni, and affiliated artists. The breadth of work in the show represents a range of mediums that are not only visually engaging but thought-provoking as well.

11/4–11/6, 230 Fenway, Boston, 617-627-0013,

Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts (Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley, oil on canvas, 2018, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

The Obama Portraits Tour

The MFA is the final stop on the national tour of the renowned portraits of President Barack Obama, by Kehinde Wiley, and Mrs. Michelle Obama, by Amy Sherald. The artists are the first African Americans commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to create official portraits of a president and first lady. The U.S. tour began in June 2021 and previously stopped at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, and other institutions. The MFA will concurrently showcase a crowd-sourced exhibit, “Portraits of Leadership,” a collection of portraits from the community depicting a diverse range of leaders that will be on display alongside the Obama portraits.

9/3–10/30, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-267-9300,