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“New and different”

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
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Go Boston Card
Ranked #20 of 411 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.
Reviewed October 21, 2013

A new attached building provides access, a music room and a cafe. Enter there and learn about the history of the museum. Find plasticized explanations for the paintings. Enjoy the courtyard.

Thank mjrg59
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"art collection"
in 88 reviews
"empty frames"
in 79 reviews
"new wing"
in 103 reviews
"new addition"
in 72 reviews
"central courtyard"
in 51 reviews
"venetian palace"
in 45 reviews
"renzo piano"
in 42 reviews
"private collection"
in 38 reviews
"laminated cards"
in 29 reviews
"venetian style"
in 25 reviews
"self portrait"
in 23 reviews
"original building"
in 41 reviews
"great art"
in 47 reviews
"amazing collection"
in 34 reviews
"audio guide"
in 45 reviews
"art lovers"
in 32 reviews
"gift shop"
in 69 reviews

1,602 - 1,606 of 2,477 reviews

Reviewed October 20, 2013

Yes, this museum is a strange mix of arts, crafts and everything else, but for me that was part of the charm. Some of the paintings just shine out from their dark walls, forcing one to refer to the printed sheets provided, just to see who the painter was. By seeing them with other paintings one is forced to draw one's own conclusion as to why they really are masterpieces. Visiting this museum drew my attention to James Whistler and John Singer Sargent. I had never really looked at American painters before, and made a point of doing so a few days later when visiting Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, which is laid out in an extremely tight "educational" format.
There is so much to see here that there really is something for everyone, and plenty to be inspired by.
As to her and other rich Americans (such as John Ringling) "ripping off Europe", I guess one should consider a historical context where Venice stole whole buildings from Byzantium, Napoleon stole from Egypt, and everyone else stole from everyone else, at the same time disseminating and inspiring the cultures of the world.
By giving this collection to the public and stipulating that no changes be made Isabella Gardner still seems to be alive at the center of things in Boston, and that is probably just what she intended.

Thank lesDk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2013

Isabella Stewart Gardner was a quirky woman and the museum that is her namesake is deserving of that title, too. The museum is built to look like a Venetian palace. You enter through the new wing, which is made of glass and is ultra-modern-looking.

We got there just after 1:00 so we missed out on a tour that started at 12:50. If you decide to visit, definitely take a tour. As per Mrs. Gardner's requests, there are no labels on the walls or cases. There are laminated wall guides, but reading them can quickly become tedious. We happened to always be a few minutes behind the tour guide, so I would catch a bit of her commentary here and there. I'm very glad I did because otherwise I don't think I'd have appreciated this place as much.

I wouldn't recommend taking young children or those who require the use of strollers for an extended visit here. Some of the rooms are very small, and several doorways were hidden or extremely narrow. But, for those who are a bit older and have good mobility, this place is a must-visit.

1  Thank imatourist82
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 16, 2013

A unique art collection with some first class masterpieces housed in a Venetian palazzo in Boston - what could be disappointing about that? Well, the tastelessness of the whole enterprise is. Miss Gardner seemed to have collected everything, importing (robbing?) European art treasures of every kind, size and quality. Than she filled this fake Venetian palace with all this stuff and this is what we have now - a fake palace full with stuff. You can't reall see the artworks because there is so much junk around and the lighting is atrocious. The pictures bear no titles and you have to do real detective work to find out what is what. Don't misunderstand me - there are some wonderful works of art there, In particular one Rembrandt self portrait is worth the admission price by itself. but the whole experience is lamentable and in bad taste.

1  Thank Toni13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 11, 2013

I made my first visit to this museum two years ago, when they were adding the new addition and also working in the Tapestry Room. I made my second visit in Sept. 2013, and everything is back in order. The new addition is striking with a lot of glass and natural light. The Living Room is the best part. Comfy couches and chairs and plenty of art books to look at. We were here while waiting to eat lunch at Cafe G. The museum itself has not changed, per Mrs. Gardner's orders. However a sarcophagus had to be moved 90 degrees to allow for a new entrance into the museum. They had to get a court order to move it. There is a lovely outside area near the Spanish cloister. Even the restrooms were renovated. I wonder if Mrs. Gardner made an allowance for that!? This is a quiet, restful museum, so don't be in a hurry. You can't see it all in one day. One negative--the younger staff members seemed unapproachable, they did not smile or say anything. The older staff were friendly and seemed happy to talk.

Thank SandyT101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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