Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Last Boston Post and My Favorite Museum

I know I've promised two more posts on our trip to Boston, but I've changed my mind. Instead, I'm going to combine the posts and show you lots of pictures. I hope you can bear with me.

We went to some fabulous places in Boston and still didn't even scratch the surface of everything we wanted to do. The Museum of Fine Arts is mind-boggling. I probably could have spent a week there, but unfortunatley my legs would only cooperate for a couple of hours. Ah, well, it will have to be one of those places on my list to revisit. We saw some lovely exhibits, but one that stood out was a room of antique instruments. There was everything from beautiful to unique to strange (I wonder how you play THAT?!). But mostly they were all stunningly gorgeous.

Seeing the USS Constitution was, I am told, also a highlight. Unfortunately for me, my legs didn't want to cooperate at all that day. So I watched movies in the houseboat and continued to learn about tides (lots of rocking and rolling). However, I did catch a glipse of the ship the next day when it was turned around for it's birthday and fired it's cannons. All the booming was a pretty good indication that something was going on, so the girls and I ran out to see this sight.
Matt was walking Bingley at the time and took this lovely photo--its masts were down due to restoration. Bingley apparently was not at all impressed with the cannons. When they were on the tour, Matt took the photo below of the crowsnest. It gave a whole new perspective to being a lookout on one of these old ships. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like that job. Between the height and the rocking of the boat, it must have taken some time to get used to.
But my FAVORITE thing in Boston was the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I had never heard of it and I am SO glad Matt found out about it. It is a beautiful museum that is very different from most. The collection was bought and put up by one woman, Isabella Stewart Gardner, around the turn of the 1900s. She had the four-storey building built specifically for her collection with the intention of it later being a museum. While she was alive she lived on the fourth floor. All of the rooms, encircle this amazing indoor courtyard. Oh, by the way, all of the following photos are from the ISG Museum website, because taking photos are prohibited while visiting the museum.
You can also see the courtyard from many of the upper-storey galleries.
Besides having a gem of a courtyard, another unique thing about this museum is how the works are displayed. You know how most museums have their artworks spread out with plenty of space to contemplate each work--well, not here. There is painting upon painting upon sculpture upon architectural details. It just overwhelms the senses. You become completely enveloped by beauty.
Things are just stacked on top of each other.
And everything is in the exact place that she originally displayed them. They have to be. If the museum doesn't display everything and in its exact place, her will stipulates that the entire collection will be whisked off to Paris, sold off, and the proceeds will go to Harvard.
I guess this is a bit of a curator's nightmare--trying to protect the art from the light and still displaying everything.
Another thing about the Isabella Stewart Gardner is that none of the artworks are labelled. You walk through room after room passing all these amazing works and not always knowing the artist--Titian, Rembrandt, Sargeant, Whistler, Degas, etc. I suppose this may bother some people, but I found it rather refreshing. Instead of feeling compelled to read who created each work and trying to store it in my brain, I was able to just be awashed in art and beauty. The sensation of being absolutely surrounded by greatness was sublime. Walking through the rooms was an experience of complete sensory overload--and it was wonderful.


  1. Cheryl,
    I love Boston! My sister and her family lived in Hyannis for a year, while she when to the Harvard and we used to visit often and go to Boston. It's a fabulous city. Thanks for the lovely pictures.



  2. what an incredible museum, I LOVE those courtyard gardens. I quite agree with you about the look out on that boat, I would certainly not like that job up there in the clouds! Take Care, Hugs, Catherine x

  3. This would also be my favorite museum, I love the way it is laid out. Boston is a wonderful place.

  4. Thanks so much Cheryl for sharing this fabulous museum what a place of beauty I would love to one day visit it is breath taking and I for one had never heard of ISG at all.

  5. Sounds like you had a great time Cheryl, thanks for sharing the photos of a beautiful museum.


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