For all its acclaim, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum had been housed for over a century behind a dull, largely unadorned exterior concealing the magical array of treasures within. Along comes Renzo Piano’s addition to more than double the museum’s space. Set back a respectful 50-foot distance from the faux Venetian palace dedicated in 1903, its sloping glass walls and copper-sheathed cubes lend it the air of a cutting-edge science laboratory that wandered across the Charles River from the MIT campus.
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