Few people realize that the first home of the Museum of Fine Arts was the Boston Athenaeum, and that the Athenaeum’s galleries once housed several thousand Egyptian objects. Today, the Department of Egyptian Art at the MFA Boston has grown to include some 70,000 objects and is one of the finest collections of its kind in the world. Recently celebrating its 100th anniversary, it is also the oldest such department in the United States. This lecture examines how Boston became interested in ancient Egypt, when the first objects arrived on Boston shores, and how the collection developed to its present size and quality. Using archival photographs, Dr Freed focuses on behind-the-scenes stories of the early years and the Department’s pioneering archaeological excavations in Egypt. Dr Rita E. Freed has been working in the MFA Boston’s Ancient Egyptian Department for 15 years; she was recently named to the John F. Cogan Jr. and Mary L. Cornille Chair of the Department of Art of the Ancient World. She is also adjunct professor of art at Wellesley College. Dr Freed has curated a number of internationally acclaimed exhibitions on the subject of ancient Egyptian and Nubian Art, including Rameses the Great, which toured the country in the late 1980s, and Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen in 1999, which traveled to Chicago, Los Angeles, and Leiden, Netherlands. Dr Freed has participated in archaeological excavations in Egypt, Cyprus, and Israel.
BIO: Rita E. Freed
Rita Evelyn Freed is the curator of the department of ancient Egyptian, Nubian and Near Eastern Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, She is a professor in the art department at Wellesley College, from which she graduated. She received a PhD in Near Eastern art and archeology from New York University.