Thursday, July 18, 2024

At Somerville’s Museum of Modern Renaissance on Saturday. (Photo: Claire Ogden)

The “Museum of Modern Renaissance” has come a long way since artist-owners Nicholas Shaplyko and Ekaterina Sorokina bought it from Freemasons in 2002. They competed with several buyers – many of whom could offer far more – but sold the Masons on the idea they’d preserve the place as a temple of art.

Now, it’s covered floor to ceiling in vivid and quirky paintings – secular, but pulling iconography from an array of religious traditions and cultures. Though they stepped back from the public to focus on building a home in Gloucester during early Covid, have restarted classical concerts and irregular public tours ($25) in the Somerville house, the latest of which was Saturday. Shapylko is a hilarious, irreverent and kind tour guide.

The cathedral-like Grand Hall, dubbed the “crown jewel,” is the museum’s focal point. The Paradise Retreat – a small library at the back of the house – is the real highlight. Though cozier and less religiously sublime than the temple, it has a fascinating mural of Jesus with abstracted disciples stealing the show in a piece called “The Last Supper.”

Museum of Modern Renaissance, 115 College Ave., between Davis and Powder House squares, Somerville


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This post was updated to add information and correct that there have been previous tours of the museum since a Covid shutdown.