Field Trip :: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

image: M. V. Jantzen
By: Curtis Robinson, BArch Candidate

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has been known for many years for it's collection of artwork and its intimate setting inside and out as well as its strong connection to nature.  A new portion of the museum designed by Pritzker Prize winner, Renzo Piano opened recently. 

Side of main entrance

The new addition keeps the old and new separate. The only physical connection to the original section is a glass hallway which will soon be surrounded by tall trees, making the user feel they are in a natural space, and not in the middle of a busy city. This connection brings the user into the central courtyard garden space. From there you are free to explore the different galleries and the gardens (just don't expect to be able to take pictures).  

View from second floor landing of glass hallway leading to main gallery space

The lobby is a light filled area and once you get your ticket, you walk into a central area where you can split off into a few different spaces. It is in this space that you will find a large central, glass staircase, the entrance to the glass connection hallway, and a straight on view to the old museum.  

Central staircase, and entrance to glass hallway leading to main gallery space

The simple, and sophisticated design does not call out for attention the way that some new museum designs do. However there does seem like a bit of a visual disconnect between the two buildings. The original portion has a large stone wall that surrounds the perimeter, and there is no transition to the new wall of glass of the new building. 

Admission with your BAC ID will cost only $5, so go and take a walk around the Fens, check out the galleries and new addition. For information on hours, and more about the history of the museum and architecture, click here.