Boston is known for its abundance of art galleries. It’s home to the ever-popular SoWa district, an epicenter of aesthetic pleasure and intrigue. As you might guess, though, the creative pulse of Boston extends far beyond the city limits.
There are slews of galleries across Massachusetts, and a number of them are worth your time and travel. If you don’t feel like venturing too far from Boston, though, we’ve got you covered: here are five art galleries and venues within a half-hour drive of Beantown.
A gallery with a stated mission of fun and accessibility, 13FOREST is also accessible from Boston: it’s about a 25 minute drive. The space hosts rotating exhibitions every six to eight weeks, usually focusing on group shows that pertain to a specific theme, like “State of the Union” or “Etched & Carved.” Interested in buying a piece of art but don’t want to splurge? You can chat with the gallery to discuss potential payment plans, which are offered interest free. Hours differ, but the gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday.
167A Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA
You don’t need to plan ahead to see this Watertown gallery’s offerings: curators Beth Kantrowitz and Kathleen O’Hara display art in the storefront windows. Simply driving by lets you peek at the current show. While the gallery’s concept has some levity, the curatorial program is quite bold, showcasing art that’s engaging, serious, playful and socially conscious. The gallery is open Thursdays 12-4 p.m. or by appointment. Just passing through Watertown? “You may not have time to stop in, but there’s always time to drive by!” reads the gallery’s website.
81 Spring Street, Watertown, MA
New Art Center
Only ten miles from Boston, Newton’s New Art Center is a mid-sized community art space. Annually, about 2,500 students participate in the variety of classes offered, from ceramics to drawing to color studies. Not only can you make art here, you can see it, too. There are two galleries on-site: the main space, which serves up self-described “ cutting-edge curatorial projects,” and the Holzwasser Gallery, where New Art Center students, faculty and staff show their work. Planning a summer trip? Take note that the main gallery is closed in July and August, but pop-up shows of teen artwork arrive on Fridays in the Holzwasser.
61 Washington Park, Newton, MA
You may be familiar with art galleries housed on college campuses, but did you know certain prep schools also mount high-quality exhibits of contemporary art? The Thompson Gallery at the Cambridge School of Weston is a great example. During the school year, they regularly host solo shows and group exhibits. Consecutive exhibits orbit a single theme. A recent example is “Eyes Open” which, in its four installments, starred artists working with colored rubber, ten-foot digital prints and “metaphorical sculptures.” One caveat: the gallery follows the school calendar, so it’s closed during the summer.
45 Georgian Road, Weston, MA
Belmont Gallery of Art
Situated in an airy, well-lit space atop the Homer Municipal Building, this public gallery is a hidden treasure of Boston’s metro area. The focus is on regional and local artists, rather than national ones. A two-room design and high ceilings supply plenty of space for viewing exhibits, which are typically organized thematically. On occasion, the gallery also displays student-made art from Belmont schools’ rising talents. The gallery is funded by donations and art sales, so any purchases you make will contribute to the gallery directly!
19 Moore Street, 3rd floor, Belmont, MA
By Alexander Castro