Add the Museum of Bad Art to Your Roadtrip Itinerary

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Visitors looking at art at the museum of bad art

When you visit Boston, you likely want to cheer on the Red Sox, tour the U.S.S. Constitution, or visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. But one museum that’s probably not on your list is the Museum of Bad Art. Did you even know that’s a real thing? 

It’s true! This museum celebrates bad art, art worth more than the garbage in which many of these paintings are discovered in. Let’s look at where the Museum of Bad Art is and why you may want to plan a visit.

Where Is the Museum of Bad Art?

The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) lies inside the Dorchester Brewing Company in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. It’s easily accessible by the bus lines of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 

It’s also only half a mile from the JFK/UMASS Transit Station. If traveling by car into Boston, MOBA is just off Interstate 93 in south Boston.

What Is the Museum of Bad Art?

The Museum of Bad Art is “dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition, and celebration of bad art in all its forms and in all its glory.” Founded in 1993, MOBA had its first show in 1994. 

It began in the basement of a house, but now the public gallery opens daily in Dorchester Brewing Company. This is no joke. The museum is serious about collecting and displaying bad art.

MOBA opens at 11:30 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m., 10 p.m., or 11 p.m., depending on the day of the week. It’s important to note that guests under 21 can’t come inside after 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

How Did the Museum of Bad Art Get Started?

One particular painting called “Lucy in the Field with Flowers” first inspired the beginnings of the Museum of Bad Art. Louise Reilly Sacco, permanent acting interim executive director, explained that her brother found this painting in a trash bin on the side of the road.

It was so bad that he couldn’t ignore it and hung it on the wall in his basement.

This oil on canvas painting features an older woman in a field of flowers. The wind appears to be blowing, and her expression causes the viewer to wonder just what this woman (or is it a man?) is thinking. Although the painter is unknown, this art planted a seed.

Jerry, who found the painting, started collecting bad art pieces until he filled his basement with about 20 selections.

He invited about 50 friends to view his collection one night, and by the end of the night, the crowd had grown to 200 because of word-of-mouth advertising. Thus, the Museum of Bad Art was born.

It received an overwhelming response with its first show in the basement of the Dedham Community Theater. As a result, the founders wanted to explore more ways to showcase bad art.

There have been multiple locations in Boston where the public could view select pieces. Now the only location is in Dorchester Brewing Company.

“The Wall Street Journal,” “Rolling Stone,” “The London Times,” “NPR,” and other large and small media outlets have featured the museum over the years. Even the Smithsonian has given MOBA attention in recent years.

What Can You See at the Museum of Bad Art?

When you head over to Dorchester Brewing Company, you can expect to see about 40 spectacularly bad works of art.

But over 800 pieces remain in storage in a warehouse in Boston — some crude, others strange. All of the art invites visitors to like or dislike it based on their own opinions and feelings.

It features a collection of “Poor Traits,” like a woman who sits pouting and a man with mushrooms sprouting from his mouth. Another collection is “Unlikely Landscapes, Cityscapes, and Still Lifes.” 

You’ll find poorly painted volcanoes erupting in a desolate land, a strange monolith rising in the tundra, and a cityscape full of keys. Other collections include “In the Nood,” “MOBA Sports Section,” “MOBA Zoo,” “Oozing My Religion,” among others.

Keep in Mind: Why Did The Warren Occult Museum Close? Let’s find out.

A woman at the museum of bad art

Why Are People Drawn to Bad Art?

In 2018, the “Smithsonian Magazine” wrote an article mentioning MOBA about why people are attracted to bad art. The writer explains that some people may think that “we like good-bad art because we take a general pleasure in the failure of others.”

But this isn’t necessarily true. Instead, “we argue that good-bad artworks offer a brand of bizarreness that leads to a distinct form of appreciation.”

We are drawn to bad art because it’s just so strange that it compels us to like it. Whether it’s movies, poetry, short stories, or paintings, we find comfort and delight in bad art, thinking that even in our failures, beauty might emerge.

What to Know Before Visiting the Museum of Bad Art

Visiting the Museum of Bad Art in Boston is always free. But you can also support the efforts of MOBA with a paid membership or a donation to its PayPal account. 

When you visit, consider also supporting Dorchester Brewing Company with a craft beer, seltzer, or wine purchase. The on-site partner M&M BBQ also provides food for visitors.

As already mentioned, you can visit MOBA daily from 11:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, until 10 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. No one under age 21 can enter after 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

What Do People Have to Say About the Museum of Bad Art?

Thousands of people have visited the Museum of Bad Art through the years. Laura Hayes of Infoplease wrote that MOBA “is a museum where you can trust your judgment and laugh out loud.” 

Sarah Mills wrote for Daily Art Magazine, “Occasionally, some of this awful art offers up something thought-provoking: even bad art can reward our viewing with a memorable experience, even if it’s simply to make us question how it could be possible to enjoy it.”

Sometimes art resonates with us, bringing joy into our lives. If the Museum of Bad Art does this, isn’t bad art worth celebrating?

Keep in Mind: If you’re a fan of Wizard of Oz, you have to Road Trip to the House in the movie!

The museum of bad art

Is a Visit to the Museum of Bad Art Worth It?

If you visit the Boston area, head to Dorchester Brewing Company and check out the pieces on display at the Museum of Bad Art. Don’t make a special trip to Boston just for this opportunity, but if you’re already catching a Red Sox game or visiting Boston Harbor, check out the bad art collection.

Will you feel moved, startled, mortified, or tickled when you see a painting of a dead fish, two dogs doing the tango, or a blue man with a sulking face?

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