Boston museums offer immersive, fun ‘First Fridays’ events

The SoWa Open Market is pictured. Via Flickr

Boston’s art museums and centers have made Thursdays and Fridays great times for guests to enjoy these spaces outside of regular hours. Many of these events offer live entertainment, special screenings and, depending on the museum, drinks in order to elevate the typical art experience during (as the name would suggest) the first Friday or third Thursday of every month. At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (ISG), these events evoke the original ways in which the museum was used, as Isabella herself would often throw lavish parties with food and music alongside her incredible art collection.

For those who are not yet 21, the most accessible events would be South of Washington’s (SoWa’s) First Fridays and Third Thursdays at the ISG. SoWa is part of Boston’s South End, and it is home to more than 200 artist studios and galleries. On First Fridays, artists’ studios are open to the public, and visitors can even watch artists as they create new works. Attendees can also peruse the local shops during their extended hours especially for the event. SoWa’s First Fridays will be happening this Friday, Feb. 1, from 5-9 p.m., and is free to the public.

On Feb. 21, the ISG will hold its own event, Third Thursdays. The nice aspect of having this event on a different day is that it does not coincide with any other art events, and one can attend without feeling like they have to rush from one event to the next. The event is an extension of their Neighborhood Salon Luminaries Program, which encourages dialogue between the museum and Boston creatives. The event will feature dancers, playwrights, photographers, community organizers and graffiti artists.  Third Thursdays is a great event for those who want to take advantage of what the ISG has to offer and wander around Gardner’s palace to have the closest possible experience to her own.

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) also offer a first Friday events to those who are over 21. The MFA First Fridays offer drinks, tapas and live music. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the museum, but tend to sell out quickly, so make sure to jump on this unique opportunity quickly. First Fridays at the MFA occur the first Friday of every month from 6 to 9:30 p.m. For those who are more into contemporary art museum experience, the First Fridays event at the ICA poses a great alternative. Feb. 1’s event will include music from DJ Eloy, samba performances and dance lessons from SambaViva, as well as, you guessed it, more drinks. The theme is red attire (for Valentine’s Day!) and there will even be opportunities to make valentines with local artist Kit Collins. Speaking of Valentine’s Day, the ICA store will be holding extended hours and will close at 7 p.m. Although advance tickets have already sold out, it is still possible to attend this event, as walk-up tickets will become available starting at 5 p.m. on Friday. Tickets are free for ICA members and $15 for non-members.

First Fridays and the ISG’s Third Thursdays are a great way to get involved in Boston’s art scene. From mingling with arts to learning Samba from professionals, there is so much to gain from attending these fun events. So go on, have your own “Night at the Museum” moment this Friday.


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