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It was the sister museum of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (the MFA) and was established in partnership with the Foundation for the Arts, Nagoya (FAN) partly to help bring the treasures of the MFA's collection, particularly those of types rarely exhibited in Japan, to the country. The museum formally opened on April 17, 1999.
Each year, the MFA, Boston sent two five-month loan exhibitions to the Nagoya museum; longer-term, five year exhibits were also provided. Despite the desire of N/BMFA's curators to display primarily Japanese and Impressionist art, the MFA, Boston had insisted on a more wide-ranging display. A small number of items were, nevertheless, sent regularly for the Nagoya museum's "Japanese corner".
The museum suffered financial difficulties due to low visitor numbers, which resulted in its eventual closure in October 2018. Its final exhibition, "In Pursuit of Happiness: Favorite Works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston", was held between July and October of that year.
The museum operated a 4,700 square meter (50,590 ft²) facility on three levels, including 1,400 square meters (15,069 ft²) of exhibition galleries. The architecture of the museum was contemporary but nonetheless meant to reflect that of the neoclassical MFA building in Boston, especially its white granite facade. A 31-story hotel building is attached to the building that housed the museum.
- 日本放送協会. "名古屋ボストン美術館が閉館 入館者数の減少などで | NHKニュース". NHKニュース (in Japanese). Retrieved 2018-10-08.
- "'In Pursuit of Happiness: Favorite Works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston' | The Japan Times". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
- Nagoya/Boston MFA website
- Boston MFA opens Nagoya outpost
- Art From West Unveiled in New Nagoya Museum from the New York Times, April 18, 1999