MFA and SAC celebrate Halloweekend

Live music and free food made for a memorable night at the MFA's pre-Halloween celebration. Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts

There is no wrong way to celebrate Halloween in college. Some carve pumpkins (or put them on rooftops), others take trips to Salem, trick-or-treat at President Monaco’s house or attend campus parties. While art galleries are perhaps not the first places a college student thinks of while planning their Halloween weekend, both the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Tufts University Art gallery hosted successful, but very different, Halloween events this past weekend.

On Thursday, Oct. 30, the MFA opened its doors to college students from the Boston area for its annual event “MFA After Dark.” More social than spooky, this early evening provided a unique opportunity to kick off Halloweekend with style. Different parts of the museum housed the night’s special features, including popular local folk-rock band Grey Season, a photo booth and even some free gelato. Many of the museum’s galleries were open for students to browse, including the temporary Francisco Goya exhibition and the MFA’s Egyptian mummies exhibit, both Halloween-appropriate selections.

The event’s only weakness lay in the sheer number of attendees. Unfortunately, many of the attractions involved waiting in long lines. However, these lines did provided ample opportunity to appreciate the creative costumes of the local students. According to the MFA’s website, costumes were optional but encouraged, and the night drew a group dressed as a chess set, another dressed as the MBTA and many variations of rainbow fish getups. Many used the MFA courtyard as a gathering place, talking and enjoying the live music. Over the course of the evening groups passed through freely, and people stayed for varying amounts of time depending on their availability and interest level.

If nothing else, “MFA After Dark” provided a late-night opportunity to explore the MFA.  The event had a relaxed, laid-back feel, with a solid but not overwhelming number of pre-planned activities. The appeal of “After Dark” was the opportunity to explore the museum, chat and possibly catch up with friends from other schools. The true attraction was not so much the galleries themselves as the feeling of being in the museum after closing, with friends, in costume. Overall, it seems that “MFA After Dark” will remain a popular option for artsy students as part of their Halloween weekend celebrations.

The next evening, a little closer to home, the Tufts Student Advocacy council hosted a Halloween party in the Art Gallery and Remis Sculpture court. The event featured an open bar for those over 21, food and live music. Tufts band Shark Saddle performed and provided an upbeat, exciting musical backdrop for the event. While attendees had the option to explore the art galleries, the hub of activity was definitely located in the sculpture court, where people convened, chatted and compared costumes. Notable costume appearances of the evening included the Sexy Sax Man, an umbrella jellyfish and a giant cardboard shark, among others.

While it was designed on a smaller scale, the SAC party had the feel of larger, all-campus events like Fall Gala and Spring Fling. This event was also open to all Tufts students, and had a more intimate feel than “MFA After Dark.” While it was wonderful to be able to visit the Tufts galleries, they were a less integral part of the event than at the MFA. Instead, the SAC event’s focus was on socializing, with the art galleries open and available to look at as a bonus option.  The evening was also full of photo ops, and even included a photo booth. Later into the night, the SAC party also hosted a costume contest and raffle.

Both the MFA and SAC offered an interesting change of pace from traditional Halloween offerings, and their programs are well worth keeping in mind this time next year.