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Somerville, Massachusetts

Museum of Modern Renaissance

This former Masonic hall has been turned into an art project that uses even more metaphysical iconography. 

Located on a residential street in Somerville, Massachusetts, the Museum of Modern Renaissance is a former masonic lodge that was transformed in 2002 by Russian artists Ekatrina Sorokina and Nicholas Shaplyko, into what they refer to as a “Temple of Art.”

The re-imagining of the building was a labor of love for the two artists. Shaplyko and Sorokina worked to create a whimsical space filled with their own artwork that gives visitors a unique opportunity to enter a piece of art, “inside another world, inside another dimension.”

This building draws much attention on the street, with its facade which has been made to be reminiscent of an Incan ruin, with a large stone face above the doorway and colorful bull on the door. The museum is not open to the public, but the artists offer tours by appointment and open their doors for various concerts and the annual Somerville Open Studios. Those lucky few granted access to the space are treated to a one-of-a-kind experience.

Using a style the artists call “Mystical Realism,” the walls and ceilings are covered with fresco-like paintings and mythological themes, creating a stained glass effect. The focal point, the building’s great hall, is filled with fresco-like paintings of Russian mythological and religious icons that line the walls and ceiling. Saturated oil colors were used for the tiger and bull totems, birds, druids, and mermaids.

The artists claim to be part of a “Modern Renaissance,” which they say “adopted the eclecticism of our life and creatively transformed it into its ideal counterpart, where mythological creatures peacefully converse with flowers, and fairy-tale landscapes harmonically incorporate complicated geometrical ornaments. It may be the key to many secrets of existence.” 

Know Before You Go

The building is located on College Ave. You really can't miss the brightly colored building with a face on this typical residential block.