Gardner Museum magazine: letter from the arts editor

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s expansion, designed by the famed architect Renzo Piano, was many years in the making.

What would Isabella do?

It’s a lush fall evening in the Fenway, unseasonably warm. Banquet tables are spread with fine china and brocade cloth from Italy. Dressed for her guests, Isabella Stewart Gardner has a moment to spare. She steps onto a southern balcony in her Venetian palazzo to gaze out at the grounds.

That’s the scene that artist Tatsuro Kiuchi depicts in an illustration on page 33 of this magazine. If Gardner could see the vast new wing that has risen up behind her museum, what would she think?


The expansion, designed by famed architect Renzo Piano, more than doubles the size of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Created after museum leaders recognized a need to relieve pressures on the century-old palace, the $114 million new wing is a sleek contemporary structure with a striking concert hall, an expanded cafe and gift shop, flexible gallery space, and improved facilities for art conservation, education, and artists in residence. Great expanses of glass invite the eye to look inside.

In recent months, we’ve explored all that makes up the new wing, even as workers completed the finishing touches. An inspired staff of writers, editors, photographers, designers, and graphic artists contributed to this magazine. And as with the treasures of the Gardner Museum, we think you’ll find plenty to enjoy inside.