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11th November 2016
Culture Vultures in Boston
We visited everyone’s favourite, Tatte for breakfast.
Perusing piles of flakey pastries, buttery croissants and sticky treats.
Opting for a couple of coffees.
(It’s never too cold for an iced latte in my world!)
We may have gone a little overboard with ordering…
And a generous portion of avo toast with poached eggs perched on top.
After a long, lazy breakfast in the cool autumn sunshine we made our way to our next stop.
Sheltered along the way by a cathedral like tunnel of golden trees.
All the way to The Isabella Gardner Museum.
Wearing my Silver May Acorn.
The Gardner Museum might just be the most interesting you’ll ever visit.
And not necessarily because of the collections it houses, though they are spectacular.
Built to feel as though it’s a 15th-century Venetian palace, the building surrounds a light filled, pink courtyard.
Complete with lush gardens, palms and Moorish style cascading water – the sound of which fills the space.
An art and history lover, Gardner began her collection in 1891, thanks to a large inheritance from her father (handy!).
She continued to amass an incredible collection of pieces from all over the world, paintings, sculptures, tapestries, letters, even pillars and tiles.
The museum opened (with one hell of a party) on January 1, 1903.
Guests were treated to music from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and dined on doughnuts and champagne (a menu I’m totally stealing for my next party!)
The museum became famous throughout the world, beloved by all who visited it. Ever the eccentric, Gardner would roam the grounds with her pet leopard on a lead and throw incredible parties.
When she died she left the museum and its collection of art to the public. Ensuring its integrity with strict rules, saying that nothing would be changed, sold or altered. If they did, the estate would sell the lot and the proceeds would be donated to Harvard.
How could she possibly know that one of the most mysterious art heists of all time would take place in 1990?
Over St Patrick’s day weekend (Boston has a big Irish population, particularly amongst the police force – so the celebrations are more than a little distracting!) two men, posing as police officers went into the museum, tied up the guards and stole 13 works of art. They disappeared and still haven’t been found.
In fact, there’s a 5 million dollar reward if you can help!
“The stolen works include: Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633), A Lady and Gentleman in Black (1633) and a Self Portrait (1634), an etching on paper; Vermeer’s The Concert (1658–1660); and Govaert Flinck’s Landscape with an Obelisk (1638); and a Chinese vase or Ku, all taken from the Dutch Room on the second floor. Also stolen from the second floor were five works on paper by the Impressionist artist Edgar Degas and a finial from the top of a pole support for a Napoleonic silk flag, both from the Short Gallery. Edouard Manet’s Chez Tortoni (1878–1880) was taken from the Blue Room on the first floor.” More here.
So if you spot any of those, holler! (I’ll take a mere 10% finders fee.)
As per her will, the museum mustn’t change, so the frames which held the missing artworks sit empty on the walls. A haunting reminder of an unsolved mystery.
But even with the vanished pieces missing, the museum remains a treasure trove of jaw dropping history and beauty.
Just the place to spend a morning roaming the halls and corridors.
Things aren’t hidden away in glass cases or kept behind velvet ropes.
This is a living, breathing collection that longs to be discovered, poured over and admired up close.
Everywhere you look you’ll find something new and extraordinary.
Every inch is a marvel.
And it all centres around that incredible pink courtyard, flooded with light.
After a morning walking round and round, discovering new things on each pass, we finally said goodbye to The Gardner Museum.
Strolling off into the nearby park for some fresh air.
Just take a gander at that view!
We met some of the local wildlife.
And continued on our way, drinking in some of the city’s architecture.
Down to Luke’s for a late lunch of lobster rolls.
After which we made a beeline for the library.
Which is hands down one of the most incredible buildings I’ve been inside.
Europeans often have this idea that America is too young to have any real history or culture, and it’s just not true.
While they may be younger than those on our doorstep, these places are no less impressive, awe-inspiring or exciting. Youth does not mean ignoble.
Though it can mean badly behaved…
In short, this place is quite simply marbleous.
The upper floors, away from all the gold leaf and glamour were my favourites.
A true library, the sort that smells musty and you could here a pin drop.
Well worth a visit if you find yourself footloose and fancy free in Boston.
Outside you see the marriage of old and new styles.
Which America is so famous for and does so very well.
Boston was an utter delight and I really can’t recommend a visit enough.
New York gets all of the attention, and don’t get me wrong – I love New York, but Boston has hidden depths. It’s a truly magical place, the people are charming, the food excellent. A university town at heart, it feels young, fresh and exciting.
It most certainly deserves a spot on your “To Do” list.
I can’t wait to go back!
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