The Belle of Boston

Thursday afternoon we had enough time after arriving in Boston and before dinner at 6p to run up to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. No matter how many times I go, it’s always a treat to go again. The only uh-oh in the outing was a rotten Boston cabbie who robbed us blind. The fare from the hotel to the museum was $11.45 and I only had Harriet Tubman’s on me so I asked for change of $5, giving him $15. He said “I don’t have any change“. That meant one of three things: I either had to refuse to pay, or grab my credit card and swipe it, or have Mr. EOS and/or daughter reach for their wallets, but we were squished like sardines in the teeny all-dented cab and Mr. EOS couldn’t move, let alone reach for his wallet. In a moment of weakness, I opted to give him the whole $20 rather than the other options. I wasn’t a happy camper. What cabbie doesn’t have five dollars on them? For the ride back, we checked wallets before hand, got out fives and tens, and were prepared.

Back to the museum. We didn’t have it all to ourselves but pretty much. The second floor is under renovation but they gave us a bonus of a temporary exhibit called Off The Wall, with some of the more important paintings ISG owned. Not too shabby. No photos from in the special exhibit because it was too dark and there was a No Flash rule. The link is more informative than my own photos would have been anyway.

None of us could remember the exact details of the famous 1990 theft of paintings from the museum so once home we did our search. Yikes, posing as Boston Police no less. I’d forgotten that detail.

The ISG museum is so much like the Cloisters with its archways and courtyard, so graceful and welcoming a courtyard as ever there was – the light pouring through the glass roof and the plantings all in bloom. I can imagine sitting there all day with a cup of coffee and a good book.

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A question we never got time to ask so maybe some of you know: The floor tiles – in the corners of the hallways and rooms where this particular floor tile lay, the tiles were black, as if they were painted black over the terra cotta and now where it’s been walked on, the black is almost gone. Every time we ran across a museum docent with an Ask Me tag, she was busy answering someone else’s questions. Oh well. You guys are smart. Tell me.

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See the tiles under the furniture – very deep brown, almost black.

The ISG was the perfect choice for as little amount of time we had. Our cab ride back was $10.90 and a tip with some ones. Not $20!

6 thoughts on “The Belle of Boston

  1. Isabella was ahead of her time, famous for negotiating better prices on the artwork she bought because she didn’t inherit all that much money, even by 1890s standards. Less than $2mm. She left quite a gift to the artists who get to study and work there.

    1. That’s what I gather by reading many of the wall plaques in the museum. She was a spender, buying so much at the end and turn of the century but had enough of a financial head on her shoulders not to be taken. Good for her.

  2. I realized I hadn’t been to the Gardner since the new addition opened. Went there today. The reason some of the floor tiles remain dark is that footsteps haven’t worn off the glaze.
    Thank you for reminding me of what a very special treasure the Gardner museum is. I love the new addition, the greenhouse, the living room and the delightful shop. And, naturally the original house.

    1. We had mixed feelings about the new addition. Understandable, the need for a welcome space, the gift shop, elevators, cafe, and I did like the enclosed glass transition to the house. But as an overall aesthetic, I thought it took away from the house and made the house an accessory to the modern addition. Maybe you can remember for me the quote over the door as you enter the Off The Wall exhibit – it was from ISG and it was something like “come into my museum for fun” but much better. We can’t seem to recall it verbatim.
      Was it crowded today, a sunny Saturday?

  3. I think it is her comment to Berenson- something along the lines of we’ll have fun in my museum. We were lucky enough to get a parking space right across from the entrance. It was moderately busy in that some rooms were closed to additional visitors until there was room for them.

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