view of the classical courtyard of the Harvard Art Museums, topped by a modern third floor

Invitation to Play “Scavenger Hunt” at the Harvard Art Museums – The Clues

You may have heard that Sunday, November 16, 2014 is the Opening Celebration at Harvard Art Museums, which is reopening after a long renovation that started with the closing of Harvard’s Fogg and Busch-Reisinger museums in June 2008, and the Sackler Museum in June 2013.

Now collections from all three museums are  housed under one roof in the completely renovated and expanded site of the former Fogg Museum designed by Renzo Piano, renowned architect who also designed the post-modern The Centre Pompidou in Paris and the expansion of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Even though the official opening is on Sunday, two days away, Harvard Art Museums had opened its doors to Harvard affiliates earlier today and of course I simply could not miss the chance to go see it. (I should point out that while I work at the university, I am NOT one the museum staff, and sadly, my job has nothing to do with writing about art or travel.)

I’ve heard people raving about the new design and it is true – the place is amazing!

The Italian Renaissance courtyard that was the center of the Fogg Art Museum designed in 1927 is still there, but it is domed by a breathtaking glass roof that fills the space with light. The building  is now a stunning blend of classic and modern, and somehow it all fits together beautifully.

Here are two of the most interesting photos of the courtyard I found on  Instagram.

#OpenThisFall #Harvard #renzopianobuildingworkshop #fogg #harvardartmuseums

A photo posted by @asylumharbour on

#Harvardartmuseums #openThisfall #RenzoPiano

A photo posted by kblockart (@kblockart) on


The one just above seems to have been taken from way up right under the ceiling, where the visitors are not allowed.

I took a lot of photos during my  visit at the museum today, but since it’s officially still closed to the public at large, I won’t post them. I don’t want to spoil the joy of seeing those paintings in person.

Instead, I’d like to post close ups of a few pieces that, I hope, will entice you to go to the Harvard Art Museums, find these paintings, and marvel at their beauty.

Here we go:

Harvard Art Museums Scavenger Hunt – The Clues

1) Detail from a 1620s Flemish painting

detail from a 1620s Flemish painting
detail from a 1620s Flemish painting

If you are not planning on looking for this painting or can’t find it at the museum, read my post about this painting and the artist who created it.

2) A dog in a 1700s Dutch painting

a dog in a 1700s Dutch painting
a dog in a 1700s Dutch painting

3) An adorable girl in a 1870s Spanish painting

an adorable girl in a 1870s Spanish painting
an adorable girl in a 1870s Spanish painting

4) A nearly empty glass in a 1880s French painting

a nearly empty glass in a 1880s French painting
a nearly empty glass in a 1880s French painting

5) A cranky kid in a 17th-century Japanese painting

a cranky kid in a 17th-century Japanese painting
a cranky kid in a 17th-century Japanese painting


I’ve got a few more, but I’ve decided to post them later.

I tweeted most of these already with a hashtag #museumchallenge. If you’re on Twitter, I invite you to follow us. If you are visiting the Harvard Art Museums in the next couple of days, feel free to reply to my tweets with a photo of the full painting. Just please don’t forget to include the details: name of the artist, title, and the year!

I’ll post answers to the clues above right here on this blog in future posts.

I hope this little game adequately illustrates how varied and beautiful Harvard Art Museums’ holdings are, and convinces you to visit the museum, should you happen to be in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Where to Stay in Cambridge

Cambridge, home to Harvard University, is right across the river from Boston, so when you visit, you can stay either directly in Cambridge, or you can find a place to stay right in Boston. There are plenty of choices!

Other Articles about the Harvard Art Museums

If you’re interested in more information, take a look at “Making Harvard’s Art Accessible” – a  really cool interactive “article” showing the museum’s floor plan on the Boston Globe’s web site

and listen to or read WBUR’s series “Harvard Art Museums Reopen.”

The following articles are also worth reading:

Five Reasons to Get Excited for the New Harvard Art Museums” by Cambridge, USA.

Harvard Art Museums offer dazzling artworks, savvy curation,” by the Boston Globe

Art’s Shining Future,” by the Harvard Gazette

The New Harvard Art Museums & The Top 6 Things to See There,” by

and a post by Campaign Outsider “Dead Blogging the New Harvard Art Museums

Thank you for reading, and as always, comments are more than welcome.

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join the #WeekendWanderlust bloggers on Facebook and Twitter
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It’s a wonderful community of travel bloggers who write about every corner of the world.


12 thoughts on “Invitation to Play “Scavenger Hunt” at the Harvard Art Museums – The Clues”

  1. This is fantastic! Tara and I are headed to Boston for WITS in March, and we’d love to take a look at the Harvard Art Museum. Tara used to volunteer at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, so she knows the area well.

    I also love the idea of a scavenger hunt. I write curriculum for The Houston Museum of Natural Science and I’m incorporating more and more of these into the activities.

    Great post, and thanks for linking up!
    Outbound Adventurer recently posted…Nature’s Lessons: Reawakening our Sense of AweMy Profile

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Jessi (and Tara)! Let me know when you’re coming in March. I’d love to meet you in person!

      The idea of scavenger hunt came about when we were sightseeing museums with our kids – to keep them interested in looking at paintings we’d quickly scan the room and tell them “Find the painting with a tiger / ballerina / cow / etc. in it.” or when looking at a still life picture, for instance “Count how many butterflies are in this painting.”

      I have yet to write a post about the Harvard Museum of Natural History, but should be doing it soon 🙂 That’s a nice place as well.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Fairlie! Playing “scavenger hunt” keeps my kids a bit more interested in visiting museums than they usually would be (though it’s still an uphill battle). Plus some details are quite striking if you take the time to really look at a painting (like the little girl in the Spanish painting).

      The Harvard Art Museums is pretty impressive as a building and I am looking forward to exploring their collection in more detail. Let me know if you ever visit the area, I’ld love to show you around.

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