Around Boston / History

Exploring Boston: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

isabellaTo many who visit, The Gardner Museum might just seem like another beautiful museum with decadent art lining its walls. However, then you hear about the history, and so much more is added.

Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1926) traveled the world collecting art with her husband. It was not uncommon for women during this time to collect art, but what was noteworthy about Garder was her own personal dedication towards the arts even when her husband was unable to assist.

After her husband’s death in 1898, Gardner looked to construct a museum to display the large collection the two had shared. She hired an architect and personally oversaw every step of the museum’s creation, from the room’s layouts to the eventual display of the art itself. After the construction was completed, she lived on the fourth floor of the museum until her death in 1926. In her will, she left 1 million to the museum to ensure its continuation. T

In a time of gallivanting art collecting Americans, Isabella Stewart Gardner ensured that her collection was left in pristine condition and that the public could enjoy access to it. The museum itself is beautiful and the art carefully displayed, but it is the story behind the woman who created the museum which is so important.


The Isabella Gardner Museum still stands today with a new extension added with a cafe and library. The museum is off the MFA stop of the D train of the Green line and is free to BU students.


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