Student Forums
A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community

Another Form of Art: Matias Matos ’22 at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

As a second-year student with an interest in psychology, literature and the arts,  I decided to do my co-op at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a museum that encourages inquiry and to heighten public understanding and appreciation of the visual world. It’s the fifth largest museum in the United States that contains more than 450,000 works of art, making it one of the most comprehensive collections in the Americas. Located in Boston, Massachusetts

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston : Founded in 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, can be located in the Back Bay part of Boston, Massachusetts. Today the MFA is one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world; the collection encompasses nearly 500,000 works of art. In February of 2020 The MFA celebrates its 150th anniversary with a weeks worth of celebration chock full of special presentations and exploring 150 years in 15 works of art. 

Kay Nielson inspired Fendi Dress

Textiles and Fashion Arts Department – “The MFA’s textiles collection was started when Boston was the center of the US textile industry. Today the Museum owns more than 27,000 objects ranging from American needlepoint to European tapestries, Middle Eastern rugs, African kente cloths, and haute couture fashions.

The MFA has been collecting textiles since it opened in the 1870s, and in 1930 a separate Textile Department with dedicated curatorial staff was formed. Today, the Textile and Fashion Arts collection includes magnificent examples from ancient times through the present day, from cultures throughout the world. Mindbogglingly complex ancient Peruvian weaving’s, the finest Persian carpets, luxurious Italian Renaissance velvet’s, dramatic Japanese Noh play costumes, and twentieth-century couture by designers like Geoffrey Beene are just a few of the treasures that can be found here.” (The Museum of Fine Arts) 


My Role at the MFA : As an intern for the Textile and Fashion Arts department at the MFA, I conducted research and organized upcoming exhibitions. Research grants opportunities for local history research, exhibition development, and digital dissemination. Maintaining records and cataloging acquisitions. Ensure the success of events by assisting with set up, clean up, and other logistics.

John Singer Sargent

One of the main projects I am working on is collecting and compiling an excel sheet of references to fashion and fabric pieces artist John Singer Sargent has used to create his edwardian-era portraits. Most of my time at the MFA is spent reading through Sargent’s catalogue raisonne, which is a cumulative index to Sargent’s works throughout time. While reading I mark any notes made of any mention of fabric, style, or designers the sitters posed with in order to create his portraits. I take all this information and compile it onto a spreadsheet where I also include the dates the portraits were painted and collections the portraits were apart of. This work all is to help create the  Sargent and Fashion exhibition which will not only be his painting but actual dresses and pieces of fabrics the sitter wore and that Sargent had stored. I also work closely with the Art of the Americas department to compile a checklist on pieces that will be included in the show to find out whether they are in storage, have been acquired, needs to be loaned from other museums or lenders, and/or needs to start the processes of acquisition



When I am not working on the Sargent project I am providing any help I can on the Textiles departments annual symposium or I am taking the museums offered course on using The Museum Management System or TMS which is a relational database used to manage hundreds of museums and cultural and scientific collections worldwide and allows us to accurately get information on objects the museum has in storage.

For more information on The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Textiles and Fashion Arts Department check the links below:

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is located at 465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115


Post Tags
Share Post
Written by

Ashley Matias is a bilingual first generation college student, who has worked for the non-profit organization The Coretta Scott King Center and currently works as Admissions and Financial Aid assistant at Antioch College. She is planning a self-designed major in Psychology and Creative Practice.

Latest comment
  • what a great summation of an interesting and rewarding CO-OP! To delve deep into materials that were used by Sargent in some of his seminal works is a great experience. The way you articulated your experience reveal the depth of the work you are doing. the mfa has just opened again for the public, with limited hall use, but it is on the way back to full-fledged gallery shows this November.