The cool thing about the Gardner is that Isabella put in her will that NOTHING in her home could be altered after she died, so it’s not your typical art museum at all. You won’t find any markers or explanations next to the paintings, so you have to search for the paintings that you want to see, like a Matisse or a Rembrandt or a Whistler or a 12th Century sarcophagus.
The three floors all work around a center enclosed courtyard that is absolutely the most beautiful part of the whole home (which is going through some serious rehab right now). It’s also fun to find Chinese and Spanish and Dutch and Italian art all within the same spaces.About 20 years ago, thieves got into the Gardner and stole some Degas sketches and some other works by famous artists. The spaces on the walls where these paintings hung are still bare. Really! One large, ornate frame is still there framing nothing. It reminds us that Isabella wanted this art to be shared and enjoyed, and the loss is still felt by all who see the empty spaces.
I know the next week is going to be crazy with a long list of last-minute things to do before Mallory and Seth’s wedding this weekend. So, visiting Isabella’s home was a great way to recharge and enjoy a beautiful, quiet place. If you’re interested in learning more about this amazing woman and her art “home,” here’s more about the Gardner.