Although we have a random number of days when Spring seemed possible (forget what the calendar says), the northeast is still plagued by piles of snow, cold temperatures, rains, more snow (today) and wind. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on the Fenway in Boston is the perfect antidote. Inside one of the first museum interior courtyards in the US, all is humid, lush and green. Outside there is still snow on the Fenway. For Easter, cascades of nasturtium vines hang down from the 3rd floor windows.
Completed in 1903 in the style of a Venetian palazzo, the museum houses the artistic treasures enthusiastically collected by Mrs. Gardner. Her will stipulated nothing could be moved or loaned, and unlike the Barnes (Archive Sept 2014) this has been honored. The courtyard is filled with Roman, Greek and Egyptian pieces.
Fish tail palms (Caryota mistis) are native to Burma. Mrs. Gardner’s estate in Brookline had extensive greenhouses to supply vegetable and flowers for her Beacon Hill home and the museum. Mrs. Jack, as she was also known, was famous for her ‘escapades’ as well as her sense of humor…“Don’t spoil a good story by telling the truth”.
Another view of the courtyard towards the original entrance, tree ferns, Dicksonia with shorter stems, also convey the Mediterranean feeling. Mrs. Gardner had an apartment on the fourth floor of the building.
In 2012, a new glass wing by Renzo Piano was added to the museum which allowed generous space for a café, library, shop, and a gallery space for contemporary art. The Gardner has always had an artist-in-residency. Now with this space, the work of these artists may be shown. Currently on view, Secret Flower Sculptures, the work of French sculptor Jean-Michel Othoniel.
In 2011 while the artist-in-residence, M. Othoniel collaborated on a fountain design with French landscape designer Louis Benech which resulted in the first commission of a contemporary garden at Versailles, due to open this year.