Monday, May 24, 2010

The Gardner and the Gardens

Last week we went to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston. Its not much to look at from the outside, but wait until you step inside... It's like being transported to Europe in an instant. Photos aren't allowed, but here are some from the web. Check out the incredible courtyard.

The art collection itself is one of the finest in the country. Here is a little blurb about the woman herself (from the museum website) and how she created such an incredible museum:

"[Isabella Stewart Gardner] is the one and only real potentate I have ever known. She lives at a rate of intensity and with a reality that makes other lives seem pale, thin and shadowy."

- Bernard Berenson, long-time friend and advisor to Isabella Stewart Gardner

Isabella Stewart Gardner, known also as "Mrs. Jack" in reference to her husband, John L. ("Jack") Gardner, was one of the foremost female patrons of the arts. She was a patron and friend of leading artists and writers of her time, including John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler and Henry James. She was a supporter of community social services and cultural enrichment. She was an ardent fan of the Boston Symphony, the Red Sox and Harvard College football. Isabella Stewart Gardner was also the visionary creator of what remains one of the most remarkable and intimate collections of art in the world today and a dynamic supporter of artists of her time, encouraging music, literature, dance and creative thinking across artistic disciplines.
Over three decades, Isabella Stewart Gardner traveled the world and worked with important art patrons and advisors Bernard Berenson and Okakura Kakuzo to amass a remarkable collection of master and decorative arts. In 1903, she completed the construction of Fenway Court in Boston to house her collection and provide a vital place for Americans to access and enjoy important works of art. Mrs. Gardner installed her collection of works in a way to evoke intimate responses to the art, mixing paintings, furniture, textiles and objects from different cultures and periods among well-known European paintings and sculpture.

The museum also has quite a few amazing tapestries, which I am in awe of.

In 1990, one of the largest and most famous art heists occurred at the museum, and the paintings have still not been recovered. Ms. Gardner stated in her will that nothing should be added or taken away from the museum's collection, and so the frames still stand empty. 

There is plenty to read on the web if you want to find out more. There are a few books out or you can watch this video about the heist here. 

After we went to the museum, we ate at their lovely little restaurant.

And then we took a stroll over to the Fenway Victory Gardens.

The Fenway Victory Gardens represent the nation’s last remaining of the original victory gardens created nationwide during World War II. At that time, demands for food exports to the nation’s armed forces in Europe and the Pacific caused rationing and shortages for those back home in the States. In response, President Roosevelt called for Americans to grow more vegetables. The City of Boston established 49 areas (including the Boston Common and the Public Gardens!) as “victory gardens” for citizens to grow vegetables and herbs.

So, make sure to check out these two lovely attractions if you visit Boston.


Lady Grey said...

what gorgeous flower photos!

Willow Decor said...

I love that museum - I have had lunch in the cafe and its so wonderful!!


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