Isabella Stewart Gardner

Come on a journey with me to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, one of my favorite places in Boston — maybe, anywhere. But first let us pause at the Museum School to read sentiments scribed more than 20 years ago and more relevant than ever. I almost cried.

If you want to know more about Gardner, her extraordinary life, the museum, or the infamous theft of 1990, I’ll leave you and google to it. These are just pictures from a day.

The new wing houses gift shop, cafe and this lounge. Plus some exhibit spaces we didn’t get to this visit.

While others checked coats, I found welcome contrast to pewter skies in a narrow greenhouse.

The early Sargent of a Spanish dancer is one of my favorite paintings by one of my favorite painters. Seeing it and it alone is worth the price of admission (which was gratis for me today but still).

The exquisite atrium follows.

Gardner was wild for her day. It occurred to me on the way home that if she had been a man, there’d be thirteen biopics about her by now with a new one due out next year.

BTW, should you hear of a Rembrandt or Vermeer on the black market, there’s a $10MM reward for information leading to the recovery of the five stolen paintings.

12 thoughts on “Isabella Stewart Gardner

  1. ravenandsparrow

    The one and only day I ever spent in Boston I went to the Gardner and it was closed. Now I’m bummed all over again.

    1. deemallon

      They still have burrata on the menu! We had fig, prosciutto and homemade soft cheese pizza with arugula. Outstanding! I can’t tell if I’d get a ton more done if I lived in a place like that, or nothing at all done. I think maybe the latter.

  2. Margaret Rose

    Ah, lovely photos of the astonishing Gardner! I went there for the first time last year (somehow missed connecting with you, Dee). Honestly, the place gave me a very unsettled feeling. I found the building oppressive and I kept hoping my in-laws would move toward the gardens. After taking quick photos of amazing and unusual works of art I would go to a window and look at the gardens. When I got to the garden I was put off by the throngs of people sitting around looking at their cell phones. Imagine me in the hospital? They’d have to strap me to the bed. But I learned a lot from seeing the collection. I wondered a lot too, what it would have been like to be her. I thought, “lonely”, and I thought, “cold”. I should’ve gone to the cafe! If she didn’t have dogs, she should’ve had several? (I’m also responding to your next post, tangentially).

    1. deemallon

      I’d like to know more about her as a collector and a person. I can see why you might’ve found it oppressive — dimly lit, massive tapestries and clusters of furniture everywhere. The prohibition against moving anything (as laid out in her will) means that her vision is a lasting one, but it also means that the space lacks the fluidity of art circulating through.

      1. Margaret Rose

        Thank you, I had forgotten what her will dictated, like and yet totally unlike Albert Barnes. And so, we contemplate her being which is a significant experience to have, of course. I’m reflecting more on what “unsettles” and why, and why that is important… #FearNoArt. #FearNoHuman #LastingImpact


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