There’s A Museum Entirely Dedicated To Bad Art In Somerville

Mª del Rosario Castro Díaz Mª del Rosario Castro Díaz

There’s A Museum Entirely Dedicated To Bad Art In Somerville

Because bad art deserves our attention too.

You’ve probably heard of Da Vinci, Manet and Picasso. You may or may not like their style, but there’s no denying that their pieces deserve to be showcased far and wide. Afterall, they’re true masters of their craft. But what of those artists who are not so proficient? They deserve their time in the spotlight too!

If you’ve been to the Sommerville Theatre you’ve probably noticed that it’s home to a rather peculiar gallery. Well, that’s the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) — Yes, you’ve read that right — Boston is home to perhaps the only museum in the world entirely dedicated to terrible works of art.

Created in the early 90s, MOBA has been carrying the mission of bringing “the worst art to the widest of audiences” all across the world for almost 30 years now. With the help of their brick-and-mortar gallery in Davis Square, traveling exhibits and special events, MOBA strives to celebrate the work of those artists who wouldn’t otherwise be displayed or appreciated.

While MOBA normally only displays about 50-70 pieces in its Somerville gallery, those who are curious to discover the world of bad art can check out their entire collection online. The more than 600 pieces are divided into 10 categories which the museums describe as ranging from the”work of artists that have gone awry to works of exuberant, although crude, execution by artists barely in control of the brush.”

Just to give you a small taste of the works of art owned by MOBA,  on their collection you’ll find works inspired by the classics like the Mana Lisa,  a cross-gender interpretation of Da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa, which the museums describes in the following way:

“Mana Lisa’s nose strikes nimbly, offsetting the dialogue between the foreground and profoundly varnished background. Further, by deciphering this work’s title, perhaps we can contribute to the growing body of Leonardo’s anagrammatic discourse: MAN ALIAS, I AM NASAL, A SAIL MAN, AS ANIMAL, AM A SNAIL, MAIL NASA.”


At MOBA you’ll also find original works of art like Nude Before a Mirror. Perhaps its subject is quite a trite topic when it comes to art, but the artist renders it unique by having painted “the woman from life and added the background from memory without understanding how mirrors work.”

Although miles away from the likes of Rembrandt and Van Gogh, works of art like the Mana Lisa and Nude Before a Mirror are so unique and bad they deserve to be displayed. And these two are but a couple of wonders you’ll find hidden at the Museum of Bad Art’s small gallery beneath Somerville Theatre. The museum has plenty more botched portraits of famous American presidents and celebrities, outlandish landscapes and strange works of art that are so bad they’re good!

Unfortunately, the Museum of Bad Art’s gallery in Somerville Theatre is currently under renovation and curators have yet to announce the reopening date. But while you wait for the day to arrive you can always check out their website or Facebook page where you can browse through all their works, listen to curatorial talks and learn more about “art that’s too bad to be ignored”!

See also: Boston’s Museums And Theatres Will Reopen Next Monday, Mayor Walsh Says

Practical information

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[Featured image: Facebook / Museum of Bad Art]