Numerous travel books and people who have traveled to Boston told me that I had to stop by the Isabella Gardener Museum. On my last afternoon in Boston, I finally found time to squeeze it in.
When my college roommate and I arrived, we were extremely happy that we had our GoBoston Cards with us as it covered the admission costs. If you don't have a GoBoston Card, the price for admission is $12 for adults and $10 for Seniors. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday 11am to 5pm. We arrived at around 3:00pm and they started to try to close things down around 4:30ish.
My first impression of the museum was that it appeared to be quite small from the outside, but inside it expands and includes an enclosed courtyard. This museum was different from any other museum that I have ever visited. The first difference is in the way the museum was kept. Mrs. Gardner laid specific stipulations about the museum's collection in her will. They were not able to add to this collection following her death in 1924. Therefore any artwork stolen was not allowed to be replaced by other pieces. The museum has had approximately 13 pieces of artwork stolen since the founder's death. They have left the empty frames where the artwork belongs with its description should it be returned. They have also set up a really interesting exhibit on art theft. Some people may think that this would be really odd or uncomfortable, but I thought it was really neat and interesting.
Another difference was in the way that the artwork was displayed. Mrs. Gardner designed each of the rooms in the museum to be like someone's home. There was a cozy sort of feeling to it. The pieces were displayed using fabric backings in some cases, and the groupings were intricate.
Another difference was that in addition to the sculpture, drawings, and paintings, Mrs. Gardner was also an avid collector of historical notes, rare books, and documents. These documents such as letters written by George Washington are available to be viewed. It was really exciting to see notes written by America's Founding Fathers.
The thing about this museum that I found to be truly unique was the courtyard. Between the two sides of the museum is a beautiful courtyard featuring lush, flowering plants. It was bright and airy especially when compared with the dark formally decorated rooms of the museum. There were even open windows from the within the gallery walls that you could look out onto this gorgeously landscaped area.
This museum showcased a wide variety of artists and it was a truly unique experience. If you are looking for something on the scale of the Metropolitan in New York this isn't it, but if you are looking for something truly unique and different check it out. The website for the museum is www.gardnermuseum.org/index.asp if you want to check it out.