Tufts Takes Over Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts

The school was dealing with financial woes and low enrollment.

School of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Students in the SMFA print shop. Photo: School of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Students in the SMFA print shop.
Photo: School of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Faced with financial struggles and low enrollment numbers, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) is turning over operations of its School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) to Tufts University.

The new partnership was announced on December 23 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding, which received initial approval from both institutions’ boards of trustees.

In 2014, another eminent museum art school, the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC, merged with George Washington University after a drawn-out legal battle concluded with the dissolution of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art and Design.

SMFA alumni include Cy Twombly, Jim Dine, and Ellsworth Kelly, but the school has reportedly struggled to attract students in recent years. Teaming with Tufts will hopefully solve that problem.

“For nearly 140 years, the SMFA has provided exceptional educational leadership,” said MFA director Matthew Teitelbaum, in a statement. “This expanded partnership will create extensive opportunities for scholarship, collaboration and creativity among the communities of Tufts, the SMFA, the Museum, and, most especially, for artists.”

School of the Museum of Fine Arts.Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

School of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The new arrangement will strengthen the existing ties between the university and the museum. Currently, SMFA students can take liberal arts courses and even receive bachelor and master of fine arts degrees at Tufts (the school is not a fully accredited institution on its own), while studio courses at SMFA are open to Tufts students. There is also a joint, five-year undergraduate degree offered by the two institutions.

“I think it will be more attractive to fine arts students,” Tufts president Anthony P. Monaco told the Boston Globe of the new arrangement. “The university can offer a lot more to them than the museum school standing on its own.”

A photo from the Tufts University website about its current combined degree with SMFA. Photo: Tufts University.

A photo from the Tufts University website about its current combined degree with SMFA.
Photo: Tufts University.

The Tufts takeover is scheduled for June 30, 2016, with SMFA being absorbed into of Tufts’ School of Arts and Sciences as [email protected] In other words, SMFA students will become Tufts students.

“It’s an exciting moment for us all,” said SMFA president Christopher Bratton.


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