The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
in Boston is one of the world’s most beloved arts institutions – a Venetian-inspired palace museum housing a world-class collection personally installed by Isabella Stewart Gardner to create an intimate experience with great art. Always free for kids under the age of 18, for museum members, and – in honor of the museum’s founder Isabella Gardner, for anyone named “Isabella”... And now, starting on January 1st – in celebration of the museum’s own 106th birthday – the Gardner is opening its doors for FREE to all on his or her birthday as a happy birthday gift from Isabella Gardner to you!
The Gardner Museum’s own history began on January 1st, New Years Night, 1903, when Isabella Gardner, museum creator and Boston society grande dame, opened her museum to the public with an artful evening celebration. The celebratory evening of music, art, and culture featured a memorable concert of music by Bach, Mozart, Chausson and Schumann performed by members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the dramatic unveiling of the flower-filled interior courtyard garden hung with Japanese lanterns and abloom with seasonal flowers, and a menu of… champagne and donuts! The memorable event was heralded in the media and described by one guest as “the aesthetic perfection of all things…Quite in the line of a Gospel miracle!”
In celebration of this enchanting opening evening – and the museum’s ongoing commitment to providing art and beauty to all – the museum will kick off its 106th year, this January, with an invitation to all to visit and enjoy Isabella Gardner’s world-class collection, unparalleled atmosphere, and enriching programs for free on his or her birthday.
The Gardner Museum remains a place of inspiration, respite, and beauty for all – a unique and wonderful place to celebrate a birthday in quiet contemplation or amidst friends. Magical any time or day of the year, the Gardner is particularly enchanting at night, when the courtyard garden and galleries are aglow. On the third Thursday evening of each month, birthday revelers will have even more to celebrate with a full-blown party – part of Boston’s best evening event, Gardner After Hours – replete with live music, cocktails, art, artist performances, savory bites, and more. So, bring your ID, grab some friends, and come explore and celebrate in Boston’s most enchanting setting.
AN OPEN POLICY
This new Free on your birthday! policy comes at a time when many are struggling in a tough economic climate – and in celebration of the cheer and happiness of the holiday season and the start of a new year.
True to Isabella Gardner’s mandate – that her museum remain ‘for the education and enjoyment of the public forever,’ the Gardner is committed to increasing public access to the collection and to vibrant exhibitions and programs, now more than ever.
“Cultural institutions have a responsibility to the public to increase access and affordability, so that everyone can enjoy, engage in and experience beauty,” says Anne Hawley, Norma Jean Calderwood Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. “Particularly in the current environment, we wanted to do something to enable, and entice, visitors to take advantage of this world-class collection of art and inspiration right here in the middle of Boston.
“Many people may have to cut back on travel and other luxuries this year,” adds Hawley, “but – especially on one’s birthday – everyone should be able to celebrate in style! Our hope is that our gift of free admission and an invitation to celebrate among friends and revelry at our After Hours events will offer some unexpected cheer on this special day.”
The Gardner’s new Free on your birthday! policy is the latest initiative aimed at increasing access to the museum and collection. The museum is FREE for all on New Years Day, January 1st, as part of First Night celebrations and on Columbus Day, each October, for the Fenway Cultural District’s Opening Our Doors Day. Each summer, a trio of free Neighborhood Nights events open up the museum for all, in celebration of art and community with special evening hours, art-making activities, gallery explorations, and a kids-friendly menu at The Gardner Café. Also, new this year – thanks to a significant grant from Bank of America as the Official School and Community Partnerships Sponsor of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for 2009 – the Gardner Museum will again open its doors for FREE to all, amidst an array of family programs and activities, on the Wednesday of public school vacation week in February and April.