Built more than a century ago, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum boasts one of the city’s most well regarded fine arts collections. American, European and Asian pieces are all included in all varieties of media, including sculpture, paintings, tapestries and more.
In the 90s, the museum became the center of a high profile art theft that included 13 of its most valuable works. In total, the robbers escaped with more than $500 million in artwork, making it the single largest private property theft ever. To this day, the crime remains unsolved, and the whereabouts of the stolen works are unknown.
The museum hosts an ever-rotating blend of exhibits, from historic works to more contemporary examples. The dedication to the arts as a whole includes hosting onsite lectures, concerts and community events, while on Sunday afternoons, the museum’s concert series invites musicians to play a variety of favorites, from time-honored classics to new music.
The curators maintain Isabella’s deep love of horticulture by meticulously pruning and constantly changing the outdoor courtyard. Gardeners blend the green space in clever ways with sculptures, as well as existing architecture. The goal is to provide visitors with a unique, ever-changing perspective of the courtyard that assures no two visits to the museum are alike.
To this day, as a tribute to Isabella Stewart Gardner, admission is free to anyone named Isabella. All visitors are welcome to visit the museum for free on their own birthday.
The museum is open year-round except on most major holidays. Hours are Wednesday through Monday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Thursday, when closing time is 9 p.m. Via public transportation, take the MBTA Green Line E to the Museum of Fine Arts stop. Street parking is available but limited and metered around the museum.