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The Boston Globe

Arts

Renzo Piano gets museum airborne

Piano designed with the museum’s original mission in mind.

Before architect Renzo Piano and his team drew up plans for their addition to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, they spent months listening to museum staffers discuss the existing building, known as the palace - both its charms and its limitations. Only then, says Piano, a Pritzker Prize winner whose firm has designed and renovated art museums around the world, did they address the Gardner’s major needs and concerns: from the soundly practical to the purely aesthetic; from how the museum has functioned for more than a century to how it might thrive for another century or two.

“The palace is a palace, a brick building. It’s not where the magic is,’’ Piano reflected on a recent visit.

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