5 Works You Shouldn’t Miss at the Harvard Art Museums

The Harvard Art Museums open their doors to the general public on Nov. 16, when you’ll have to navigate crowds and elbow other viewers for space to truly enjoy the gems on display. Flyby took the time to scope out the offerings so you know where to start.

1.  “Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen,” Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas

Whether you want to rekindle your dreams of being a dancer or want to see firsthand a masterwork from your HAA textbook, stop by “Degas’ Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen.” With her upturned face, confident stance and tulle skirt, this dancer has all the markings of a prima ballerina.

2. “Mosaic Pavement Fragment with a Peahen,” unidentified artist

With Thanksgiving around the corner, frequent sightings of the Harvard Square turkey, and a research project on that turkey in the works, birds are on the brain (not that we’re calling you a birdbrain). This mosaic peahen does not disappoint. Each of the multicolored tesserae (bits of glass or ceramic) forms an intricate pattern, which is only more mesmerizing the longer you linger in front of the piece.

3. “Astor Hotel,” Reginald Marsh

“Hey, you looking at me?” the woman in this Depression-era painting seems to say in a Brooklyn accent. Arms akimbo and cherry-red lips pursed, despite her poverty, she stands ready to make her next move. Marsh’s fresco-like loose brushstrokes and muted color palette, seen here, put him at the forefront of the social realist painters. The painting is a far cry, though, from some of his other work, which features dancers—both are worth checking out.

4. “Woman in the Night,” Joan Miró

For those more interested in abstract art, make sure to check out Harvard’s extensive modern art collection. Treasures include sculptures, mixed media works and paintings, like this whimsical piece by Miró. A surrealist, Miró used curved forms and bright colors to illustrate the twisted body of a woman. We dare you to try this pose at home.

5. “Kneeling Attendant Bodhisattva (from Mogao Cave 328),” unidentified artist

If you want to stir up a debate with your museum companion, the “Bodhisattva” and accompanying paintings from the Magao Caves are for you. The pieces, removed by art historian Langdon Warner from Dunhuang, China, in 1924, raise questions about cultural heritage and art conservation. And what’s better than having intense conversations with the evidence (beautiful evidence!) right in front of your nose? You are, after all, a Harvard student.

6. Bonus: the building itself, designed by architect Renzo Piano 


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