A community-lighting ceremony with an artist-designed menorah and an immersive blacklight installation are two highlights of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA)’s free Hanukkah celebration taking place this Wednesday, December 18. The museum’s sixth annual edition of the Festival of Lights also features musical performances and a wealth of activities for children, including a Hanukkah button-making workshop and a storytime presented in English and Russian. Organized along with the Jewish Arts Collaborative and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies organization, it is said to be the city’s largest Hanukkah community celebration.
The museum commissions a contemporary artist to design a new, large-scale menorah for the festival every year. For her menorah, titled “Persist and Rise from Ashes,” artist Caron Tabb printed poems and citations on fabrics and illuminated them to create sculptural flames. Tabb selected a number of texts, including a quote by Nelson Mandela, that connect the story of Hanukkah and Jewish people’s fight for freedom to modern-day struggles for justice and equality.
Tova Speter’s interactive blacklight installation “Brighter Beyond,” which the artist describes as “a giant glowing exhibit,” invites visitors to be a part of the work by contributing their light to the piece. Speter leads art workshops in local schools, and the installation will showcase artworks created by more than 100 students.
The festival is also an opportunity to explore MFA’s trove of Judaica and Jewish art, one of the museum’s newest collecting areas that has become a growing focus since 2013. Objects from the collection on view now include a delicate, flower-inspired Hanukkah lamp by contemporary sculptor and jeweler Linda Threadgill and a luxurious oil on panel portrait by the Hungarian painter of Jewish life and culture Isidor Kaufmann.
Free admission to the museum begins at 4pm on Wednesday. More details and a schedule of the festival’s programs can be found here.