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Francisco Goya y Lucientes. “El Sueño de la Razon Produce Monstruos” (1799) (via Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

This morning, as Boston mourned yesterday’s tragedy, its major art institutions announced free admission to the public, “a place of respite for our community” in the words of the Museum of Fine Arts.

The Institute of Contemporary Art joined the MFA in opening its doors, also announcing on Twitter their wish to provide a space for “community & reflection.”

With these gestures, both museums have manifested their purpose not just as stewards of art history, but as institutions in the service of the public. The relationship between art and suffering, or art as a response to suffering, is a complex one, but the therapeutic power of museums as places of quiet contemplation is undeniable.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Tuesday hours: 10am–4:30pm
465 Huntington Ave, Boston

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Tuesday hours: 10am–5pm
100 Northern Ave, Boston

The Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, which is closed on Tuesdays, posted a tweet offering its thoughts to everyone at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, as did the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge.

The Harvard Art Museums are open today, though the admission fee has not been suspended as of press time.

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Mostafa Heddaya is the former managing editor of Hyperallergic.