Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas, where art thou? That’s a question the staff has been asking at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum since 1990, when thieves made off with 13 of the museum’s most valuable pieces, worth an estimated half a billion dollars. Rather than sulk, however, museum officials left empty frames on display both to educate visitors and to serve as hopeful placeholders awaiting the artworks’ eventual return. Meanwhile, you can visit the museum’s lovely courtyard and vast collection of historic and contemporary art at Fenway Court, built to resemble a Venetian palazzo and packed with paintings, sculpture, furniture, and textiles gathered by Gardner, an avid art collector and philanthropist, during her lifetime. Pro tip: Wear a Red Sox hat or shirt to get a $2 discount on admission—as stipulated by Gardner after her beloved Sox won the 1912 World Series (also, you get in free if your name is Isabella).

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Gift at the Gardner

The gift shop at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is not your typical museum store. A carefully curated collection is inspired by the artwork and architecture. Curiosity cabinets invite the visitor to look within, much like the archive rooms, filled with hidden displays. The ever-changing selection is international with a heavy accent on travel and reflects the current exhibits on display and the wanderlust of Mrs. Gardner.

The Gardner: A Hidden Treasure

Tucked away not far from the well known Museum of Fine Arts is my favorite spot in Boston. The Gardner Museum, completed in 1903, houses the vibrant collection of a woman who knew her way around the globe. The artwork celebrates the worldly travels of a lifetime of collecting, in an intimate Moorish setting, with a center courtyard that will knock your socks off! The new Renzo Piano-designed wing brings the museum into the 21st century, housing modern performance rooms. Cafe G features a menu inspired by the flowers and music of the museum, and an intimate reading room provides a spot for finishing off your afternoon traveling vicariously through Isabella Stewart’s collections and generosity.

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