Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is at once an intimate collection of fine and decorative art and a vibrant, innovative venue for contemporary artists, musicians and scholars. Housed in a stunning 15th-century Venetian-style palace with three stories of galleries surrounding a sun- and flower-filled courtyard, the museum provides an unusual backdrop for the viewing of art. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s preeminent collection contains more than 2,500 paintings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture, manuscripts, rare books and decorative arts. The galleries house works by some of the most recognized artists in the world, including Titian, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Manet, Degas, Whistler and Sargent. The spirit of the architecture, the personal character of the arrangements and the artistic display of the enchanting courtyard in full bloom all create an atmosphere that distinguishes the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum as an intimate and culturally-rich treasure.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum opened to the public on the evening of January 1st, 1903, with a musical and visual arts celebration. Following an opening concert of Bach, Mozart, Chausson and Schumann performed by members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, mirrored doors were rolled back to reveal the spectacular interior courtyard, brimming with flowers and dramatically lit with Japanese lanterns. Surrounding the courtyard, galleries displayed art in a highly intimate and personal setting. The evening was a dazzling celebration of music, art, history, innovation and beauty. In the words of William James, The aesthetic perfection of all things seemed to have a peculiar effect on the companyナIt was a very extraordinary and wonderful moral influenceナQuite in the line of a Gospel miracle!

Fenway Court, as the museum was called at its inception, is the only private art collection in which the building, collection and installations are the creation of one individual. Isabella Stewart Gardner’s vision that the museum remain as she arranged it for the education and enrichment of the public forever is reflected in every aspect of the museum. The museum’s seal, designed by Isabella Gardner and Boston artist and designer Sarah Wyman Whitman, bears a phoenix (a symbol of immortality) above the phrase C’est mon plaisir (It is my pleasure).

Today, as in Isabella Stewart Gardner’s lifetime, the museum bustles with artistic activity and presents ongoing programs in celebration of historic art, contemporary art, music, education and horticulture.

Place Categories: Art MuseumPlace Tags: fiber, illustration, paintings, Photography, printmaking, sculptures and woodworking

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