Elliot Bostwick Davis has brought visitors to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts a new, broader definition of American art. Davis joined the MFA in 2001 as the John Moors Cabot Chair of the Art of the Americas Department—her assignment to spearhead the planning and installation of the museum’s newest wing. The Art of the Americas wing, which opened in November 2010, includes nearly 5,000 works from North, Central, and South America. It is the first time since the museum’s founding in 1870 that objects representing the Americas across a broad range of media—prints, drawings, photographs, musical instruments, textiles, and fashion arts—have been brought together for display.
Davis was tasked with designing the new wing’s space and devising ways to present beloved old masterpieces along with thousands of new works from ancient to modern times. Breaking with convention, the wing is organized both chronologically as well as according to period, style, and culture. "People want a sense of the broader timeline and expect art history to unfold before them; yet it is important to express the richness of artistic creation throughout the Western Hemisphere," Davis says.