Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Boston art museum houses the vast collections of its namesake, one of the most prominent art collectors and philanthropists of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Immortalizing an Outstanding Private Collection in Boston

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner was born in New York in 1840 and moved to Boston with her husband, Jack Gardner in 1860. Deeply involved in Boston and Cambridge's intellectual circles, she began collecting rare manuscripts and books, paintings, sculptures, furniture, and artifacts. Following the death of her husband in 1898, Gardner funded construction on a four-story museum where she would exhibit her collection and live in the private quarters. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum opened in 1903, offering exhibitions, concerts, and lectures to the public and encouraging artists to use the space as a place to create. Gardner died in 1924, leaving an endowment to continue the museum's operations.

In 1990, 13 items were stolen from the museum in one of the largest art heists in history. Although those paintings and artifacts have never been recovered — a $10 million reward is still offered for information that leads to their return — empty frames still mark the spaces that the artwork once occupied, in accordance with Gardner's request in her will that the collection never be altered.

GRoW Support


Thinking Through Art Program


General Operating Support