While New York City has the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paris has the Louvre and London has the Tate, Boston has its own, lesser-known stake in the art world.
The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) is the only museum in the
world to solely showcase works of art gone wrong.
tagline “art too bad to be ignored”, MOBA began in 1994 when antique dealer
Scott Wilson acquired Lucy in the Field with Flowers from a curbside trash pile, hoping
to salvage just the frame. Fascinated by the old woman awkwardly posing in a
meadow, Wilson’s friend Jerry Reilly saved the painting and piece by piece the
collection grew until the men began having exhibitions in Reilly’s basement.
Eventually, the popularity of the events forced the collection to move into the
larger basement of the Dedham Community Theatre, where bad art still hangs
today. The museum has since expanded to two other locations in the Boston area, with 20 to 40
pieces on display at any given time.
The 600-piece collection showcases
all of the categories any major art museum might, like landscapes, still lifes or
nudes, but also contains more peculiar categories like “blue people” and “poor traits”. Each painting comes labelled
with a short interpretation, though the museum often has contests allowing the “opinionated,
overeducated, and verbose” to be guest interpreters
for new works.
always free for the Brookline Gallery and the original gallery in the Dedham
Community Theatre (the Somerville Theatre gallery requires admission to the
theatre), although donations of cash and “really, really bad art” are always appreciated. Curators only accept about
10% to 20% of donations into the permanent collection, mostly because the art
just isn’t bad enough. Each piece must have been created by someone trying to
make an artistic statement that has gone horribly wrong –
so works by kids, paint-by-numbers and works painted on velvet are never
accepted. Rejected art still finds a good home through the museum’s bad art charity
auctions held throughout the year.