The Center for Netherlandish Art (CNA) is an innovative research center for the study and appreciation of Dutch and Flemish art. Through an expansive library, a residency fellowship program, and an active slate of academic and public programs, the CNA shares Dutch and Flemish art with wide audiences in Boston and beyond; stimulates multidisciplinary research and object-based learning; nurtures future generations of scholars and curators in the field; and expands public appreciation of Netherlandish art—especially works from the 17th century.
The Founders of the Center for Netherlandish Art are Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie.
The CNA seeks to enhance the field of Dutch and Flemish art internationally through both collaboration and facilitation. Through its programs and events, the Center convenes experts, students, collectors, and art lovers, all with the aim of building meaningful connections and sharing knowledge. In addition to investigations of artistic and cultural history, the CNA also enables study, exploration, and discussion of the innumerable relationships between the Low Countries in the 17th century and our own time and place.
Fully integrated into the MFA’s program, governance, and resources, the CNA’s space is centrally located within the Museum on the ground floor, where it serves as a hub of activities connected to the Museum’s rich collections, state-of-the-art Conservation Center, and public programs serving wide audiences. Its cutting-edge facilities are capable of accommodating both individual study and events to propel observation, questioning, experimentation, reflection, and networking. CNA activities also take place in galleries, classrooms, and conservation studios throughout the Museum, ensuring the Center is part of the life of the MFA.
About the Center
Integrated within the MFA, the CNA draws on the expertise of the Museum’s staff in paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, works on paper, libraries and archives, conservation and scientific research, exhibitions and design, education and public programs, community engagement, publications, and visitor experience.
Christopher D. M. Atkins, PhD, Van Otterloo-Weatherbie Director
Marije Spek, program manager
Lucy Louis Lee, coordinator
Marisa Bass, professor of the History of Art, Yale University
Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School and director, Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University
Jeffrey Muller, professor of History of Art and Architecture, Brown University
Pieter Roelofs, head of Paintings and Sculpture, Rijksmuseum
Peter Sutton, former executive director, Bruce Museum
Martha Tedeschi, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director, Harvard Art Museums
Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo, CNA founders
Susan and Matthew Weatherbie, CNA founders
In 2017, two families came together to present a transformative gift to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo joined Susan and Matthew Weatherbie to donate 114 Dutch and Flemish paintings, the extensive library of late scholar Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, and initial endowment funds for the Center for Netherlandish Art, the first of its kind in the US.
2019 marked several key milestones for the CNA. In the spring, the Kingdom of the Netherlands appointed the Center’s four founders Knights in the Order of Orange-Nassau in recognition of their generous support of Dutch culture in the United States. The decoration ceremony was preceded by the CNA’s inaugural lecture, given by Professor Eric Jan Sluijter. That summer, during a diplomatic trade mission attended by Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, the Dutch government established the Kingdom of the Netherlands Fund for Emerging Scholars, which enables Dutch students and young professionals to participate in CNA activities. Later in the year, an exhibition of highlights of the combined collections of Dutch paintings from the MFA, Van Otterloos, and Weatherbies traveled to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Ahead of its launch, the CNA hosted several in-person and virtual programs that brought together speakers from partnering institutions in the Boston area and abroad, including Harvard University, Harvard Art Museums, Providence College, the Netherlands Innovation Network, the University of Leiden, and the Rijksmuseum.
The CNA officially debuted in November 2021 with the opening of its physical space. This coincided with the MFA’s unveiling of newly renovated galleries of Dutch and Flemish art, which include a rotating space dedicated to presenting research developed at the CNA through collaborations with academic partners. The first installation in the CNA Innovation Gallery, on view now, features data visualizations created in collaboration with faculty and students from the Experience Design Lab and the Co-Lab for Data Impact at Northeastern University.
Also in November 2021, the Government of Flanders established the Flanders State of the Art Fellowship at the CNA to enable one pre- or postdoctoral fellow a year to be in residence at the CNA to conduct independent research.
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Have a question or ideas, or interested in learning more about the CNA? Get in touch with us at CNA@mfa.org.