Shut for nearly 30 years, the doors on the north side of the Museum of Fine Arts are now open wide to visitors, recreating a visual link between the city's great art museum and one of the nation's great urban parks.

Shut for nearly 30 years, the doors on the north side of the Museum of Fine Arts are now open wide to visitors, recreating a visual link between the city's great art museum and one of the nation's great urban parks.


The June 20 reopening of the Fenway entrance is part of the museum's $500 million "Building the New MFA" campaign. In particular, a $10 million donation from State Street Corp., the largest corporate donation in the museum's history, funded the entrance project.


Although museum officials aren't sure exactly when the entrance was closed, it was closed at least by 1981 when the West Wing was officially opened. Now officially called the State Street Corporation Fenway Entrance, its facade, featuring 22 grand Ionic columns, overlooks the Back Bay Fens and Fredrick Law Olmstead's Emerald Necklace.


In addition, the renovation project includes the 5,000-square-foot Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Visitor Center that joins the Evans Wing to the original museum building. With an information desk, plasma screens and computers, the visitors center will also house a changing array of artwork, beginning with contemporary artist Jim Dine's painted bronze sculpture "Trembling for Color (Venus)" and other works by the artist.


The Fenway entrance, one of two original grand entrances to the museum (the other is on Huntington Avenue), has a dramatic, columned portico designed by architect Guy Lowell in the 1907 master plan for the museum. Its doors open onto the Robert Dawson Evans Wing. Renovations include a wider staircase and ramps using Deer Isle granite to match the color and texture of the original facade.


BY THE NUMBERS:


- $10 million: Amount of money State Street Corp. donated to the "Building the New MFA" campaign and funded refurbishments to the entrance.


- 1,000: Feet of new sidewalks installed.


- 30: Number of years the MFA's north entrance has been closed.


- 22: Number of Ionic columns on the north-facing portico, each measuring 36 feet tall.


- 18: Number of new street lights installed.


- 15: Number of 10-by-5-foot blocks of Deer Isle granite used to widen the stairs and add ramps to the entrance.


- 5: Inches the landing had to be raised outside the door.


- 3: Number of figures representing painting, sculpture and architecture on each column.


- 2: Number of huge bronze heads sculpted by Spanish contemporary artist Antonio Lopez Garcia that have been relocated to the Fenway side of the MFA.


- 2: Number of reflecting pools flanking the stairway to the Fenway entrance.