Fodor's Expert Review Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Fenway and Kenmore Square Museum/Gallery Fodor's Choice

A spirited society woman, Isabella Stewart came in 1860 from New York to marry John Lowell Gardner, one of Boston's leading citizens. "Mrs. Jack" promptly set about becoming the most un-Bostonian of the Proper Bostonians. She built a Venetian palazzo to hold her collected arts in one of Boston's newest neighborhoods. Her will stipulated that the building remain exactly as she left it—paintings, furniture, and the smallest object in a hall cabinet—and that is as it has remained.

Gardner's palazzo includes such masterpieces as Titian's Europa, Giotto's Presentation of Christ in the Temple, Piero della Francesca's Hercules, and John Singer Sargent's El Jaleo. Spanish leather panels, Renaissance hooded fireplaces, and Gothic tapestries accent salons; eight balconies adorn the majestic Venetian courtyard. There's a Raphael Room, Spanish Cloister, Gothic Room, Chinese Loggia, and a magnificent Tapestry Room for concerts, where Gardner entertained Henry... READ MORE

A spirited society woman, Isabella Stewart came in 1860 from New York to marry John Lowell Gardner, one of Boston's leading citizens. "Mrs. Jack" promptly set about becoming the most un-Bostonian of the Proper Bostonians. She built a Venetian palazzo to hold her collected arts in one of Boston's newest neighborhoods. Her will stipulated that the building remain exactly as she left it—paintings, furniture, and the smallest object in a hall cabinet—and that is as it has remained.

Gardner's palazzo includes such masterpieces as Titian's Europa, Giotto's Presentation of Christ in the Temple, Piero della Francesca's Hercules, and John Singer Sargent's El Jaleo. Spanish leather panels, Renaissance hooded fireplaces, and Gothic tapestries accent salons; eight balconies adorn the majestic Venetian courtyard. There's a Raphael Room, Spanish Cloister, Gothic Room, Chinese Loggia, and a magnificent Tapestry Room for concerts, where Gardner entertained Henry James and Edith Wharton.

On March 18, 1990, the Gardner was the target of a sensational art heist. Thieves disguised as police officers stole 12 works, including Vermeer's The Concert. None of the art has been recovered, despite a $5 million reward. Because Mrs. Gardner's will prohibited substituting other works for any stolen art, empty expanses of wall identify spots where the paintings once hung.

The modern addition to the museum opened in 2012. The Renzo Piano–designed building houses a music hall, exhibit space, and conservation labs, where Gardner's works can be repaired and preserved. The popular RISE Music Series features pop, rock, and hip-hop artists, while the STIR is an adventurous mix of contemporary art, music, and performance. A quirk of the museum's admission policy waives entrance fees to anyone named Isabella and on your birthday.

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Museum/Gallery Fodor's Choice Silversea Cruise

Quick Facts

25 Evans Way
Boston, Massachusetts  02115, USA

617-566–1401

www.gardnermuseum.org

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: $15, Closed Tues.

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