Romance Meets Art: Valentine’s Day at the MFA

Indeed, romance was in the air on Feb. 14 at Boston’s Museum of Fine Art. Couples milled about the museum holding hands and pausing for quick kisses, taking advantage of the museum’s free admission to wander the seemingly endless galleries and enjoy special events and exhibitions in honor of Valentine’s Day.

For the holiday, the museum held free, fifteen minute Spotlight Talks in the photography exhibition, “(un)expected families.” Titled “Friend and Lovers” and led by James K. Leighton, an MFA Curatorial Research Assistant in Photography, the talk dove deeper into the photographic depiction of couples as family. Leighton said, “What’s great about this exhibition is it really spans the history of photography. Since the advent of photography, we as people have just wanted to document what it is to be a family–that experience.” His favorite piece in “(un)expected families” was an untitled photograph by Yasuhiro Ishimoto. “What I love about it is it’s such a tender, loving embrace,” he said of the black and white still of a couple smiling and leaning into one another, a small child lingering in the background.

For one couple, the visit was particularly significant. “Today isn’t just Valentine’s Day for us,” said Lucia Droby, a resident of the area, admiring the museum’s vast collection of Monet paintings with partner Rick Burns. “It’s also our anniversary.” Their 38th, to be exact. The couple celebrated with a trip to one of their favorite places, the MFA. “We were so clever to have our anniversary on Valentine’s Day so that we wouldn’t ever forget,” said Droby. Burns chimed in, “We always do something special on Valentine’s Day and we’re having dinner at the restaurant in the museum here.”

The couple shared their favorite exhibits. Burns liked the American wing, and added, “I really like the way they opened up the Huntington and Fens entrances and really tied the museum back together.” For Droby, that day, it was “Mark Rothko: Reflection.”

“I actually wasn’t expecting to be overwhelmed by that,” she said. “But it was really very deep, it was very beautiful.”


Visitor Alyx R. Henigman, a senior at Boston Conservatory, had a similar experience with the Rothko. “It’s just a lot, it’s a lot to connect the art with his timeline of his life and the complexity of his paintings, but it’s so simple,” she said. She and partner Georgia R. Lipari had come to the museum to catch a showing of “The Princess Bride” but couldn’t get tickets. “It’s my favorite place, and we’re not really like cheesy romantic people,” she said before Lipari interrupted and said, “I don’t know if that’s true!” Lipari particularly enjoyed the photography, adding, “I feel like I was a photographer in another life, it’s so interesting.”

When asked the definitive question, “Who’s more beautiful, your significant other or the art?” the two laughed and embraced. “My significant other,” Lipari said.

—Staff Writer Allison J. Scharmann can be reached at