Most cities’ “hidden gems” are actually pretty well known, but relatively to many of Boston’s other art institutions, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum barely gets any attention.
This is great for you, because it means it’s constantly quieter, and more enjoyable to wander around than the nearby Museum of Fine Arts. While this museum has significantly less works than the MFA, it is undeniably a cooler space to spend time in. The museum is built around the former residence of Ms. Isabella Stewart Gardner, an art enthusiast and collector who had a Venetian-style palace constructed in the bog of the Fenway.
In that Venetian palace, European artwork lines the walls and all three floors, in various themed rooms, forbidden from being permanently moved lest the museum shut down. It’s just there for the public to experience and enjoy, as stipulated by Ms. Gardner’s will. The museum is also one of the jewels of Boston’s Emerald Necklace, housing the most beautiful and well-maintained courtyard garden imaginable.
The museum is perhaps best known for an unsolved art heist that occurred in 1990, giving an air of mystery to the whole place. However, the second floor where two Rembrandt paintings were nicked from is under construction as part of a restoration project – or is it a cover up!? – until Spring 2017, so bear that in mind for your visit. The rest of the museum is still well worth the visit, especially for Red Sox fans wearing apparel or anybody named Isabella, who receive discounted tickets.