An audio guide on selected pieces is available for $4. The cafe is very popular, as is the gift shop.
Or for you Red Sox fans, receive $2 off your ticket price by wearing something “Red Sox.” Free for all people named Isabella and on New Year’s Day.
There is a $2 discount at the Museum of Fine Arts if you visit within two days of the Gardner Museum and vice versa.
This is one of my favorite museums in Boston. Every single item in this musuem is in the original place Isabella herself left it. She left instructions that after her death nothing was to be moved. The gardens inside the grounds are really pretty. And there's some interesting facts about a robbery that is still unsolved. The frames of the paintings that were stolen still sit/hang in their original places with a note describing the robbery.
This is listed in the book of 1000 places to see before you die and I wholeheartedly agree ! Best though for kids 12 or older...the museum used to be the mansion of a very wealthy woman who patterned it after a 15th century Venetian palace and it was the site of the largest art theft in history of the USA 19 years ago...WELL worth the price.
Discount if you wear a Red Sox regalia ( hat or shirt...), FREE if your name is Isabella (or Isabel)
The museum was once the home of Isabella Stewart Gardner, who built Fenway Court to house her personal art collection. A New York native, Gardner shocked Boston with her short-sleeved dresses and her unorthodox habits (local lore has it that she walked her pet lions down Beacon Street on leashes, like poodles; in reality, she never owned lions).
Her legacy to her adopted city is this museum. When Garner died in 1924, she left the museum in a public trust. The heart of this 1903 Venetian-style palazzo is a glass-ceilinged, three-story courtyard that holds a lovely indoor garden.
Every painting, sculpture, and piece of furniture is in the same spot where she chose to place it, a century ago. Much of the art collection is from the Italian Renaissance and Dutch seventeenth-century master period, but there are several fine late-nineteenth-century pieces too, notably the portrait of Gardner painted by her friend John Singer Sargent and a beautiful small seascape by James McNeill Whistler.
Despite the grandness of the building and the breathtaking art collection, the museum’s staff manages to preserve the museum’s origins: Flowers and plants are tastefully placed throughout the museum, and staff members talk of Gardner as if she were still in charge.
Art-loving families should budget at least two hours to explore the museum. To keep their interest, suggest to the kids that they try to spot the animals in many of the paintings and sculptures, and ask for the “Small Wonders” guide. A concert series is held on Saturday and Sunday in the spring and fall.