Looking for a unique art museum experience in Boston? Take a trip to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The museum is located in the Fenway and is the creation of Isabella Stewart Gardner, an American art collector and Boston social figure in the early 1900s. As art collectors, Isabella and her husband shared a dream of opening a museum showcasing their personal art collection. She made this dream a reality in 1903 by opening the museum.
When you enter the original building, you are greeted by a beautiful courtyard area which includes seasonal flowers, alongside ancient artifacts. It was recommended to us to start at the top floor and work our way down. The museum gallery is organized exactly as Isabella left it- this was a stipulation in her will. So when you enter the rooms, you are seeing it exactly as Isabella laid out. That was one of the most interesting things to me during the visit- to think about her thought process when putting together each room and the placement of each item.
The galleries contain some of the world’s most famous artists, including, Botticelli, Degas, Matisse, Sargent and Rembrandt. My favorite was Madame Gautreau Drinking a Toast by John Singer Sargent (seen here). Besides being known for the amazing works in the galleries, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is also famous for the art heist that occurred there in 1990. The heist resulted in the robbery of work by Rembrandt and Degas amongst others. The Dutch Room in the museum has a few empty frames hanging where the works were taken from which is an interesting thing for visitors to see.
The museum is the perfect size for exploring over the course of the afternoon- just big enough to feel like you’ve seen a good amount of art, but not too overwhelming. Plus the home like feel of how it is organized makes it a really unique museum visit. As the weather gets colder here in Boston, I’d definitely recommend a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum as a fun, indoor activity.