The MFA was founded by art collector and philanthropist Margaret Acheson Stuart (1896–1980). She also provided monies to acquire art and donated works from her collection. The MFA opened its doors to the public in 1965.
The comprehensive collection of more than 20,000 objects includes major works by the French artists Monet, Morisot, Barye, Rodin, Corot, and Bourdelle, and the Americans Inness, Hassam, Bellows, O’Keeffe, Pearlstein and Andrew Wyeth. Also on view are ancient Greek and Roman, Egyptian, Asian, African, pre-Columbian, Native American art and objects.