If you’ve ever been to the Frick Collection in Manhattan or the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia then you can understand what the Gardner Museum is like. It’s a private museum of artworks collected by a single individual. It reflects the tastes, style and mandates of the late Isabella Stewart Gardner.
Mrs. Gardner oversaw the construction of the museum and the placement of the collected works of art according to her exact specifications. Every item in the museum is placed there for a reason. Not a single item can be moved or altered. The collection remains exactly as she first exhibited it. And what a collection it is!
The galleries are filled with paintings, sculpture, tapestries, furniture, and decorative arts from cultures spanning thirty centuries.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is particularly rich in Italian Renaissance paintings, as well as in 19th-century works by John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler and the first Matisse to enter an American collection. My favorite piece in the collection is Rembrandt's self-portrait at the age of 23. Positively inspired!
Raphael's Pieta is not-to-be-missed as well.
The Museum features a central flowering courtyard and garden as its physical and imaginative center - and the courtyard is a highly memorable aspect of the larger Museum experience. Museum gardeners design, cultivate and present six horticultural displays showcasing seasonal flowers and greenery annually.
Beginning with lunch at the Museum's excellent small cafe, I spent an entire afternoon at The Gardner. The place is beguiling.
If you're ever in Boston, don't miss this extraordianry experience!