Museum of Bad Art.
"Mama and Babe." MOBA describes this as a "celebration of color and contour."

Museum of Bad Art: Main Gallery

Field review by the editors.

Somerville, Massachusetts

The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) opened its Somerville gallery in 2008. It's in a basement, which seems appropriate, although MOBA has high standards for its low art: no black velvet, no paint-by-numbers, no Dogs Playing Poker.

"I've had people tell me there's no such thing as bad art," said Louise Sacco, MOBA's executive director. "That's ridiculous."

It's hard to disagree with her when viewing paintings such as a woman with eyeballs instead of breasts ("The Better to See You With, My Dear"), or a Pope John Paul II tribute that includes his EKG graph at the time of his death ("Papa Nostro").

"Our curator," said Louise, "calls bad art, 'Art in which something has gone wrong.'" Originality is important, said Louise, and bad art that's meant to be bad is just boring. "If someone sets out to make a piece of junk, that's not interesting at all."

Museum of Bad Art.
Inside the Somerville gallery. The basement restroom is just around the corner.

Since MOBA's first public show in 1994 (in Louise's brother's basement) its collection has grown to nearly 800 pieces. These formerly unappreciated works, in a Boston region filled with art museums and artistic pretense, have been found in nearby yard sales, thrift stores, or thrown out with the trash.

The Somerville gallery, along with smaller galleries in Brookline and South Weymouth, are completely rehung with art from MOBA's archives two or three times a year, according to Louise, ensuring that returning patrons will see new masterpieces every time they visit.

MOBA's success has inspired the opening of other, similar museums in other cities, proving not only the genre's popularity, but that bad art can be found anywhere, not just in Greater Boston.

"We absolutely encourage it," said Louise of the bad art appreciation movement. "Start a museum. We did. It's fun."

Museum of Bad Art.
"Charlie and Sheba." Why is the dog wearing a Band-Aid? Only the anonymous artist knows.

Also see: MOBA's Original Gallery (now closed)

Museum of Bad Art: Main Gallery

Somerville Theatre

Address:
55 Davis Square, Somerville, MA
Directions:
Somerville Theatre. Downtown, on Davis Square, at the intersection of Holland, Elm, and Dover Sts, and College and Highland Aves. In the basement.
Hours:
M-F 4-10, Sa-Su 1-10 (Call to verify)
Phone:
781-444-6757
Admission:
Free with movie ticket, or request a free pass from Info@MuseumOfBadArt.org
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

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Marker: Leif Erikson's House Was HereMarker: Leif Erikson's House Was Here, Cambridge, MA - 2 mi.
In the region:
World's Smallest Museum, Somerville, MA - 2 mi.

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