There is a house in Somerville, Massachusetts, that stands out due to a giant stone face and a collection of bright and colorful works of art spread across the wall.
But that’s just the front of the house.
The Museum of Modern Renaissance is a hidden gem tucked into a Boston area neighborhood that boasts scores of artistic wonders from wall to ceiling, inside and out. Each room offers wonders, from the giant sun overlooking a sleeping tiger in the library to the stories of world creation spread across canvases in the gigantic main hall
Although it is called a museum, the building at 115 College Avenue is actually a home for Russian artists Nicholas Shaplyko and Ekaterina Sorokina, who transformed an old Masonic Temple into a lived-in masterpiece after purchasing it in 2002.
"We call it a museum because the original meaning of the museum word is ‘house where the muses are living,'" said Shaplyko. The last part of the name, "modern renaissance," refers to their desire to create a new artistic movement.
The couple has implemented their unique style of art, called "Mystical Realism," in fresco-like paintings and sculptures across the walls, ceilings and every imaginable corner of their home. Their art showcases magical beings and gods shown through saturated oil colors and other art pieces throughout the home.
"It is an open door into another dimension," said Sorokina.
The artists create all the art together with no planning or sketches of any kind. They combine their love, male and female energy, to bring their colorful works to life.
"Whole point of the art, how I understand it, is to bring emotion," said Shaplyko. "We’re working together, just like making love, to create this kind of boost in emotion."
Their art combines with music throughout the year with the many concerts that Shaplyko and Sorokina host in their main hall. The hall has the "best acoustics in Boston," according to Shaplyko, due to it being completely surrounded by canvasses.
While the couple hosts a variety of art-focused events, The Museum of Modern Renaissance doesn’t have official visiting hours. People can schedule private tours, and they might take the occasional curious visitor in, but they are usually busy creating new works of art. When they are not traveling the world to showcase their art, the two are busy making it in their home together.
The artists first came to the United States in 1992 for an art showcase and received their green cards a few years later. Shaplyko said that they arrived in Boston with just $20 to their name.
"Standard American dream came true," he said. "Using all these opportunities this country can give, we just use it and we build this."
According to the artists, the house’s history does not just end at its roots as a temple for Freemasonry. It is also the place where Paramahansa Yogananda first introduced the philosophy of Yoga to America back when it was a Unitarian church. For this reason, they are applying to have the building be registered as a National Historic Landmark. Not only that, they are hoping to turn their home into a recognized art installation that can live on for years to come.
"We just make our mark and just want to be recognized and I think Boston can be proud of us," said Shaplyko.
Learn more about the Museum of Modern Renaissance, and take a virtual tour, at https://www.mod-renaissance.com