Performance Art Archive

The MFA is one of the first encyclopedic museums in the US to fully integrate performance art into its collection, exhibitions, and programs. Performance art at the MFA features a range of works by international, national and local artists, and encompasses a spectrum of live and participatory experiences, such as performances that unfold in the Museum’s galleries and engage with its collection, works that form part of cross-media contemporary art exhibitions, and interventions that appear in unexpected spaces inside the Museum or outdoors.

Since the opening of the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art in 2011, the MFA has commissioned dozens of performance artworks and organized multi-artist, one-day performance art exhibitions, including Odd Spaces and Onto Objects: Performances by Patty Chang & Jeffery Gibson. These foundational, artist-driven projects questioned the role of performance art in a museum environment and reframed visitor’s experiences of objects in the MFA’s encyclopedic collection.

The MFA has likewise presented a growing number of contemporary exhibitions across media that incorporate performance art into their checklists, including: Permission To Be Global/Prácticas Globales: Latin American Art from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection, Shinique Smith: BRIGHT MATTER, Conversation Piece, Crafted: Objects in Flux.

Key acquisitions related to performance art include Amalia Pica's Now Speak!, Pedro Reyes’ Colloquium and Lee Mingwei's Sonic Blossom. A 2014 presentation of Joan Jonas’ Reanimation, her first major work performed in Boston, lead to the acquisition of a related installation, Ice Drawing Sculpture.

More information and video documentation of select performance artworks can be viewed below through this chronological archive of past presentations.


In This Series

Performance Art

September 17–18, 2011
7:00 pm–12:00 am

Johnson conducts an interactive performance called "Messages."

Performance Art

September 17–18, 2011
7:00 pm–5:00 pm

Performance art: Sloss, Kerr, Rosenberg & Moore

Performance Art

September 17–18, 2011
7:00 pm–7:00 pm

Performance art that highlights the strength of the human spirit

Performance Art

September 18, 2011
11:00 am–4:00 pm

Performance art that provides insight into life on the US-Mexico border

Performance Art

March 27, 2013
7:00 pm–9:00 pm

Engage in a new performance, followed by screenings of rarely seen works

Performance Art

May 15, 2013
11:00 am–8:30 pm

Performance art activates non-traditional spaces for exhibiting art at the Museum

Performance Art

July 19, 2013
7:00 pm–8:00 pm

Pedro Reyes presents a new performance at the MFA, Pharmasphere

Performance Art

January 20, 2014
9:00 am–3:45 pm

Hear excerpts of historically significant speeches

Performance Art

January 29, 2014
6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Performance art exhibition with works by Patty Chang & Jeff Gibson

Performance Art

May 26, 2014
10:00 am–1:00 pm

The artist lies in state in a coffin, parodying the “death of the artist.”

Performance Art

May 26, 2014
3:00 pm–3:45 pm

Performance exploring the intersection of civic and military voices

Performance Art

June 25, 2014
6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Regina José Galindo performs a new artwork for the MFA


Performance Art at the MFA is supported by Lorraine Bressler.