• Sunshine City Kids

Go Backstage at the MFA: A Look Inside "Art of the Stage: Picasso to Hockney"

Updated: Jan 24

Opening day for the newest exhibition at the MFA is this Saturday, Jan. 25.

Beginning Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Art of the Stage: Picasso to Hockney invites visitors of all ages to take a look behind the curtain to discover the collaborative worlds and intersection of the visual and performance arts.


More than 100 stage, scene, and costume designs in addition to original costumes from world-famous theater productions are on display in the Hazel C. Hough wing of the museum and transform the space, most recently home to Jennifer Angus's The Grasshopper and the Ant exhibition, into a jewel-toned revelry for the senses.

"Cloak for Ivan Tsarevitch in the Finale of L'oiseau de Feu (The Firebird)" by Alexander Golovine. 1910.

Organized by the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, the exhibition brings to life many pieces from the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts, including performance design works from Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and a slew of other iconic artists from the 19th century to present day.


The galleries — full of bold colors and emotion — present a visual and immersive timeline of theatrical partnerships beginning with the Russian artists of the Ballets Russes like Natalia Goncharova and Alexander Golovin, before winding through European and American Modernism. The cultural evolution ends amid the emergence of pop art onto the stage with the works of Robert Indiana and David Hockney.

Although impressive, there's much more to soak in than just the artwork. The first Russian science-fiction film, Aelita: Queen of Mars, plays alongside designs from the Russian Revolutionary period in one of the galleries. The theme of artistic collaboration also continues onto the literal stage built inside of the galleries where nearly 30 live performances of classical music, opera, dance, and theater are scheduled through May.


According to Margaret Murray, MFA Associate Curator of Public Programs, "The theater is the crux of the exhibition."

The Belinda R. Dumont Theater will host live performances inside of the museum.

MFA Executive Director Kristen Shepherd adds, “We are very excited to activate the museum and our entire community with visual art and performance, echoing the collaborations between the artists and performers we are celebrating ."


With all of the vivid imagery and opportunity for discovery, Art of the Stage is versatile enough to serve as either an "entry point" to the performing arts or reinforcement of existing passion for children and adults alike. Live performances, including those by The Sarasota Ballet Conservatory and St. Pete Opera Company, encourage further immersion into the scene, and special family programming will entice even the youngest museum-goers.


Currently on the MFA's calendar are two days of Museum Minis (Feb. 5 & 22) and one Explore More! Family Day (March 21) with the theme of “Showtime!” related to the exhibition. These programs are included with membership or the cost of admission, which is always free for children ages 6 and under.


The MFA is the first museum in the country to host Art of the Stage outside of its debut at the McNay Art Museum in 2019. The next stops for the collection will be in Dayton, Ohio and Savannah, Georgia. Plan your family visit now before the exhibition leaves the stage on May 10 — just don't forget to leave the oversized bags at home. mfastpete.org.

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