In the midst of the gloomy Boston weather, I found myself in an oasis.
The front facade of the museum was a modern addition with glass. After happily getting a student ticket at $5, I followed the hallway and walked across a glass tunnel. The light quickly disappeared as I entered a dimmed corridor with sculptures on the wall. The absence of light was short as I reached the center of the palace (as they called it). Who would expect this?
In the center lied a courtyard lushed with greenery. Probably by design, the interplay of green, white, blue, and yellow was harmonious with the salmon pink walls, and the ceiling was a plane of glass panels for natural light to shine in. As one of the first visitors that morning, I could feel the tranquil atmosphere before the rush of human whispers emerged.
Throughout the day, a lot of people sit on the short concrete benches to just observe and soak in the beauty of the place. I sat there and listened to music for awhile between my explorations of the floors.
The collections of artifacts and paintings were found in beautifully decorated rooms on each floor. I am not an art expert by any means, but I discovered the large collection of John Sargent’s watercolor paintings and saw Titian’s Europa in a room lined with Venetian furniture. Some of them also hide in nice extensions of the garden such as the Asian gallery.
The aesthetics sometimes struck me by surprise. These walls in the room below had leather panels decorated with silver flourishing that was faded through time. Yet, you can imagine how the silver would have lit up the room to guide focus onto the painted ceiling.
Apart from the permanent exhibition, the palace had bits and pieces on the exploration of sound. One of my favorite was a room with a large glass sculpture dangling from the ceiling. Each bulb was filled with a different liquified element, and different sound was generated depending on the audience movement within the room. Rather than separating the roles of the viewer and the artist, in a way you are an artist simply by being in the room and causing movements. It somehow defied the notion that artwork should only be observed.
To me, the Gardner museum also addressed the relationship between art and its viewers. Instead of leaving these pieces solely for the eyes of the wealthy, Mrs. Gardner amassed an impressive collection for the public to enjoy. It challenged the idea that art should be a luxury.
If you are ever in Boston, this is a perfect place to spend a 2-3 hours for art lovers or a rainy day activity. Let me hear your thoughts in the comments!
Until next time! 🙂