An heiress and socialite, Isabella Gardner (1840–1924) was also an avid traveler and patron of the arts. The core of the museum is her private collection of paintings, sculpture, furniture, tapestries, and decorative objects. The largest work of art, though, is the building itself, completed in 1901 and designed to resemble a 15th-century Venetian palace. Three floors of galleries surround a magnificent plant- and flower-filled inner courtyard, making the space one of the most unlikely and gorgeous in the city. Galleries feature works by Titian, Botticelli, Raphael, Rembrandt, Matisse, and Sargent—whose monumental El Jaleo, a painting of a Gypsy dancer and her musicians, takes up an entire wall in the museum’s Spanish Cloister. A glass-enclosed wing debuted in 2012 and is a treasure in its own right. (Designer Renzo Piano termed it the “respectful nephew to the great aunt.”) It includes the handsome Café G (open Weds–Mon) and a concert space, Calderwood Hall. The museum has an unfortunate claim to fame: An art heist in 1990 of important works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas was estimated to be worth more than $500 million, making it the single largest property theft in the world. As of 2018, the case remains unsolved. Tip: Gardner was a big Red Sox fan, and the museum offers $2 off adult and senior admission to visitors wearing Red Sox paraphernalia. One more tip: All visitors named “Isabella” are admitted free of charge (bring ID as proof).
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
5 Evans Way
Our Rating Hours Wed–Mon 11am–5pm (until 9pm Thurs). Transportation T: Museum of Fine Arts Phone 617/566-1401 Prices $15 adults, $12 seniors, $5 students, free for kids 17 & under, military & families, and adults named Isabella with ID. $2 discount for wearing Red Sox paraphernalia. Web site Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Map5 Evans Way Boston
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.