It’s re-opened! It’s lovely.
Isabella Stewart Gardner was a fascinating woman who collected art with her husband at the end of the 19th century. She sponsored many up and coming artists throughout her life, perhaps most notably, John Singer Sergent.
Disliking the style of museums of her era: enormous, vacant spaces that were cold and impersonal, she created the current building (minus, quite obviously, the 2012 addition), it mimics a home, displaying the art as one might if it were actually displayed in your home.
This is one of my favorite museums for this very reason. You can interact with art from everywhere from ancient China, to 12th century Flanders, to 19th century Boston. It’s not a museum to visit just once, it’s one that you could spend months exploring—and not in the way that you would need months to explore the Louvre. There is so much packed into each room, the way the art interacts with the pieces around it, is really wonderful.
They’ve just added a modern addition, off the back of the old house that has a really fun and interesting theater, a new installation gallery space, a restaurant, and a truly stunning museum shop.
And, if that weren’t enough, the stunning courtyard of the old building boasts a greenhouse with trickling fountains and orchids galore:
Admission, like many places in Boston is unfortunately high:
College w/ID: $5
Under 18: Free
Named Isabella: Free*
Double check your local library for passes, many have discounted tickets available.
*Yes, if you’re named Isabella, it’s free. I wonder if they’ll phase that out as all these Twihard’s daughters named Isabella grow up and out of the under-18 range… but that’ll be another 18-or-so years.