The paintings at Harvard ’s underrated art museum (485 Broadway, Cambridge, 617/495-9400, www.artmuseums.harvard.edu , 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 1 p.m.–5 p.m. Sun., $9 adults, $7 seniors, $6 students, free Sat. before noon, every day after 4:30 p.m., and children 17 and under) were mostly acquired through random donations by rich alumni. Thus, it has pretty much one of everything, and everything is exceptional.
Alas, much of it is also not available for viewing at present, since the museum is undergoing a major renovation that will combine Harvard’s three disjointed art museums (the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Sackler museums) into one glorious new space designed by Renzo Piano, the busy beaver who is also designing the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum  addition across the stream.
Until the new museum opens in 2013, visitors will have to content themselves with a rotating exhibition of the highlights of the museum—including a large number of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings, including a Van Gogh self-portrait, Degas’ dancers, and several Picassos—that will be on view at the Sackler.