What are Boston museum directors’ favorite artworks — in other museums?

Tara Donovan’s “Untitled (Pins)” at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Perhaps the question was indelicate. It was conceivably arbitrary — perchance even cruel.

After all, how could anyone choose just one artwork in a city like Boston, where museum galleries brim with masterworks, the public library boasts the murals of John Singer Sargent, and the Greenway displays the sculpture of Ai Weiwei?

Well, no one said it would be easy — particularly for the museum directors of Greater Boston, whom we asked to describe one work of art that has particularly resonated with them lately. The only catch? The chosen object had to be in a collection outside their home institution.

Each bemoaned the difficulty of choosing just one exceptional piece (“That is many, many works,” went the refrain). But the artworks they did choose were surprising, including stoneware from the second

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