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Spotlight On: Isabella Gardner Museum, Boston


The Isabella Gardner Museum is equally known for what it doesn’t have as what it does. In 1990, two men dressed as police officers broke into the famed museum in Boston and stole five Degas, three Rembrandts and a Vermeer, along with four other works, from off the wall and disappeared into the night, never to be seen again. For 21 years, the heist has been the subject of movies and countless articles but a clue as to whom the culprits are remain hidden. Recently, the robbery has made the newspapers again with the arrest of Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger, who as the head of the city’s powerful mob at the time the paintings were stolen, must have known who committed the crime. Some speculate it was even Whitey himself who orchestrated the theft in order to ensure he had a bargaining chip in case he was ever arrested, as he was on June 22nd of this year.

Today, the museum continues to pay homage to their missing masterpieces by continuing to hang the paintings’ empty frames on the wall. But if you are looking to gawk at more than scandal, the Isabella Gardner Museum as much to offer with over 2,500 paintings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture, manuscripts, rare books and decorative arts pieces. The museum is home to paintings by Titian, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Manet, Degas, Whistler and Sargent.

Opened in 1907 in a 15th century style Venetian home, the museum was created by socialite and patron of the arts Isabella Gardner because, as she puts it: “Years ago I decided that the greatest need in our Country was Art… We were a very young country and had very few opportunities of seeing beautiful things, works of art… So, I determined to make it my life’s work if I could.”

The Isabella Gardner Museum
280 The Fenway, Boston MA, 02115 – 617 566 1401

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