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“Huge disappointment” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
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Go Boston Card
Ranked #13 of 379 things to do in Boston
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: A Venetian palace in the middle of Boston, Gardner's home is now a museum displaying her impressive, eclectic collection of European, American and Asian art, including sculpture, paintings, furniture, ceramics and textiles. Visitors can stroll or rest in a spectacular skylit courtyard filled with plants and flowers.
Herefordshire, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
39 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Huge disappointment”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 11, 2013

Usually when visiting museums it's an enjoyable experience - not here unfortunately. I had entered the museum with a very small back pack (virtually flat on my back) but when trying to enter the first exhibition in the new wing was told I had to leave my bag in the cloakroom. Was really not impressed by this when I saw other ladies with larger handbags over their shoulders who were let in! The guards in each room made you feel really uncomfortable. I leant in to see a painting (the room was very dark) and was reprimanded by him.

We joined an tour giving us insight into the architecture of the new building and a brief talk in the courtyard, which was ok, but the lady doing did not seem that sure about what she should be saying at times.

The courtyard is undoubtedly the star feature of the museum, but cannot quite understand why you cannot take photos here - the trailing nasturtiums were truly spectacular and I would love to have taken a photo, but they will have to remain in my memory.

Refreshments only available in a reservation only cafe, which is not very customer friendly if you just want a drink.

A real mishmash of artefacts on show, but something is missing, we just didn't feel the love in this place I'm afraid to say.The whole place had a rather pompous atmosphere, and I really wouldn't recommend it, especially if you have only a limited time in Boston.

Visited April 2013
Thank Vegibores
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
54 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“I have always wanted to visit this museum”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 10, 2013

And when I finally did, I was not disappointed. It is a one woman's classy vision of an italian villa decorated with art treasures from her travels all over the world. The decor is very eclectic and the museum is fascinating when you consider her accomplishments in putting this all together.

Visited May 2013
Thank esgazgram
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newton, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
17 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“really interesting”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 10, 2013

This museum is an a palazzo-- a beautiful building with an indoor garden. It was created by an eccentric wealthy woman. They have real treasures, they are displayed according to her original plan. You can see the whole thing in one visit, and have a nice lunch also. Very manageable, and lots of incredible art. I still miss the stolen Vermeer though-- this was the site of a famous art theft and they still have the empty spots where the stolen items were... kind of cool, and interesting for the kids.

Visited June 2012
Thank Dale S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Don't miss this”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 10, 2013

This was a marvellous experience. The museum or rather palace was a revelation. Great art but the house itself is wonderful, something special around every corner. Of all the museums which we visited on our trip to US(included Boston/ NY and Washington) this was the most special and memorable. Both of us and out daughter (who had visited in 2012) would thoroughly recommend a visit.

Visited April 2013
Thank browneyed5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Level Contributor
23 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Wonderful art pieces in a bric-a-brac atmosphere”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 9, 2013

Wonderful art pieces in a bric-a-brac atmosphere. Desk staff is really committed and friendly which unfortunately is not the case for the gallery personnel. Although I was wearing an audio guide which clearly identified me as a visitor of the museum, I was asked several times to show my admission ticket at the entrance of various galleries. The non-picture policy is strictly and bluntly enforced even in the courtyard (which, compared to the Cloisters in New York, is not really much of a thing). As another reviewer stated, there are so many rules enforced in this museum that, despite the beauty that surrounds you, your only wish is to leave it behind you just to escape the suspicious looks of the guards that seem to see each guest as a potential thief. The first floor is a real bric-a-brac, rooms are dark and sparsely furnished. The tapestry room looks like an old barn with its rugged wood boards. Things get a little bit better in the upper floors where great Italian artifacts and paintings are on display. The Gothic room on third floor is really a must-see. The cafeteria is reservation-only. The audio guide is from an ancient generation and is really clumsy to operate. The ISG museum compares very poorly to neighboring MFA which allows photography and show visitor respect. Add to this that MFA gives you the opportunity to revisit for free within 10 days from the purchase of the ticket, uses iPhone-like audio guides and trusts its visitors in not being misbehaving kids or potential criminals. It radiates an atmosphere of freedom and enlightenment which sadly is still to be invented at the Gardner.

Visited May 2013
1 Thank Angelo T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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