Isabella Stewart Gardner was an eccentric Bostonian the late 1800s (April 14,1840 - 1924). Born in New Your City, she married John Lowell Gardner, Jr. Isabella was wealthy through blood and marriage; Her father had done well with real estate and her husband made his fortune through the export of cotton and import of expensive goods from the east.

      When she and John first moved to Boston they resided at 152 Beacon Street. That residence was later demolished. She became an art collector initially with only the goal of decorating her home, but as she acquired more and more art, it became apparent that their home was not sufficient to store all of the artwork. In 1896 she realized that she realized the need to establish the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In 1899 construction began at 280 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115, and was completed by about December 1901. The Museum was opened the public in 1903. The design of the building was essentially Isabella's, tho she used Willard T. Sears as her architect/engineer for safety and sound structure while constructing her vision.


"Fenway Court is designed in the style of a fifteenth-century Venetian palace. Galleries on three floors open onto a central courtyard filled with flowering plants. Each gallery has a character of its own.

      The stone arches, columns and capitals in the courtyard are partly old and partly modern. Although Isabella Stewart Gardner bought architectural details - window frames, balconies etc. from Venetian buildings, Fenway Court was an original creation and was not, as popular myth has it, a dismantled Venetian palazzo that was reconstructed here. "(source)

      Isabella is said to have been very eccentric, here is one particularly interesting tid-bit about the lady. "Isabella Stewart Gardner was very fond of dogs but never owned any exotic animals. She was, however, a frequent visitor to the Copley Square Zoo and on one occasion, according to the newspapers, borrowed two lion cubs and invited neighborhood children to come and see them at her home on Beacon Street. On another occasion, again as reported by the newspapers, she walked an old toothless lion named Rex through the halls of the zoo on a leash." (source)

This is a beautiful musseum, and is entirely worth the trip if you find yourself in the area.

280 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115
General Information: (617) 566-1401
Membership: (617) 566-5643

Hours:(Tuesday - Sunday) 11am - 5pm
$10 for adults ($11 on weekends)
$7 seniors
$5 students
children under 18 admitted free.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was subject to one of the greatest unsolved art heists in history. Around 1:15 a.m. on March 18, 1990, two white men dressed as Boston police officers gained access to the museum after hours by telling security that they were responding to a disturbance in the area. Once they were let in, the unarmed thieves overpowered the guards, securing them with handcuffs and duct tape in separate areas of the museum's basement. Then they set to work swiping everything they could get their hands on in the next hour:

Vermeer's "The Concert"
Rembrandt's "A Lady And Gentleman In Black"
Rembrandt's "The Storm On The Sea Of Galilee"
Rembrandt's "Self Portrait"
Govaert Flick's "Landscape With An Obelisk"
Degas' "La Sortie Du Pelage"
Degas' "Cortege Aux Environs De Florence"
Degas' "Three Mounted Jockeys"
Degas' "Program For An Artistic Soiree"
Manet's "Chez Tortoni"

...and a Shang Dynasty bronze beaker...

Before leaving, the thieves took the security tapes, but forgot the museum's masterwork, Titian's Rape of Europa. More than ten years later no substantial clues have surfaced other than some photographs of the paintings turned over to police in 1997 by a 38-year-old ex-con and antiques dealer named William P. Youngworth III. He claimed to know where they are, and said he could broker their release in exchange for the $5 million reward the museum offers and the release of his friends from prison.

All told, the value in artwork stolen exceeds $300 million.

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