Isabella Stewart Gardner was somewhat of a Renaissance woman. She spent her life traveling, scouring the earth for the best of art, music and culture. Her legacy, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, holds her original collection which contains some of the most important art pieces in the world. Her eye for talent, combined with her desire to share all the wonderful things she came across, gives us access to a diverse collection of works from times past. The museum’s collection has continued to grow, and you can also find contemporary art pieces among the meticulously cared for grounds.
Why You’ll Love the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Inside the Stewart Gardner Museum you’ll find a large assortment of rooms, each with their own theme. While some exhibitions change, much of the art found inside the halls of the stately building are permanent features.
Be sure to check out the courtyard, which is in itself a masterpiece. A double staircase descends into a world of stunning garden design, featuring flowers, plants and statues that are highlighted by the architectural details of the building.
On the first floor, you’ll find eight distinct rooms, each filled with lovingly curated pieces. Some contain paintings from artist friends of Isabella Stewart Gardner, others hold intricately detailed creations, like a carved wooden clock from the 18th century, or a Greek statue from the year 340 BC.
The second floor holds six rooms, many of which are dedicated to the Italian artists of the Renaissance. You’ll also find furniture and art from Asia, Europe, Egypt and the Middle East. One of the rooms, the Short Gallery, is dedicated to family portraits of the Stewart Gardner family.
Much of the third floor is host to religious artwork and architecture. There’s even a chapel, highlighting a stunning piece of French stained glass from the thirteenth century. You’ll also find one of Isabella’s favorite pieces, Titian’s Europa, proudly hung in the Titian Room.
There is a guide posted in each room, ready to answer any questions you have. They also offer free tours each day.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum also features the work of a different contemporary artist each year, along with an array of landscape art that adds to the ambience of the museum. There is also an onsite eatery, Café G, which offers a different menu each month, each with items inspired by the artwork found in the museum.
What Makes the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Special?
You’ve probably heard of the Louvre. You know, the famous museum in Paris that is home to the Mona Lisa? Well, the stained glass in the chapel at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was split in half when it was first purchased. The other half is on display at the Louvre.
What Else Is in the Neighborhood?
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is located in the heart of this college city. A short walk will allow you to check out the Simmons College and Northeastern campuses. If you’re up for taking in some more art, the Museum of Fine Arts is just a couple of blocks away. Grab a mouthful at The Squealing Pig, which features burgers, pizza, and odd concoctions that are somehow scrumptious (Melted Mars Bar Sandwich, anyone?).
Who’ll Have the Most Fun at the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum?
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has such an eclectic, diverse collection that it will catch anyone’s fancy. The intimate nature of the museum makes it the perfect place for a date.
While young children may get bored roaming the halls, there are plenty of outdoor gardens that will allow them a reprieve from the dark indoors. Remember, the landscaping is part of the exhibits and should not be tampered with.