MFA buys Forsyth Institute

In a decision described as a “historic moment” for both parties, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston will purchase the Forsyth Institute property located at 140 The Fenway.

The MFA and Forsyth announced last week that they have signed a purchase and sale agreement for the Institute’s property.

Just down the street from Northeastern residence halls on Hemenway Street, the 93-year-old Forsyth building is about 107,000 square feet on 1.6 acres of land.

“It is fitting that this Boston landmark will be sold to another organization with longstanding ties to The Fenway,” said Dr. Dominick DePaola, president and CEO of the Forsyth Institute, in a statement. “The Museum of Fine Arts shares Forsyth’s historic commitment to the city of Boston and we are happy that this building will continue to serve as a resource for the community.”

Previous news reports alleged that Northeastern had expressed interest in purchasing the property.

“I have no idea where they got that from,” said University Communications Director Fred McGrail, who declined to comment further.

The MFA is currently undergoing a Building Project to renovate and reopen the Museum’s Fenway entrance, which has been closed since 1981.

Malcolm Rogers, an MFA director, said in a statement that the purchase of the Forsyth Building is “a once in-a-lifetime opportunity for the museum.”

“The purchase of this venerable building, along with the Museum’s expansion plans for the new American Wing, which overlooks Forsyth Way and the revitalization of the Fenway entrance will dramatically transform the ,museum and this neighborhood for generations to come,” Rogers said.

The Building Project, which is planned to be complete in late 2010, also includes creating more space for Contemporary and Modern art, a centrally located gallery for special exhibitions, enhanced facilities for educational programs and a glass-enclosed courtyard that connects the existing and new Museum buildings. So far $409 million has been raised for the initiative.

The closing for the purchase is expected to be complete this month, but Forsyth will remain a tenant in the building for at least two years, said Jennifer Kelly, a spokeswoman for the institute. Forsyth is a leading independent nonprofit research organization that focuses on oral, craniofacial and related biomedical science.

Kelly said the decision to move stems from a need for the institute to have a better building for conducting research.

“[The Fenway] building was built long before research was happening,” she said.

Kelly could not disclose any details regarding where and when the institute will move. She said the institute is looking for a “top notch” scientific research location where it can work closely with other members of the scientific community.

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