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This blog is a place for dialogue on issues and actions relating to Boston's unique built environment and the preservation and continuing evolution of historic resources within it. My goal, as the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, is to post timely, relevant and thought-provoking intelligence, ideas, and insights that will engage conversations, inform our actions, and broaden perspectives on preservation.

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Greg Galer, Executive Director, Boston Preservation Alliance

Executive Director

AllianceViews Blog

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Keeps Boston Cultured into the 21st Century

September 6th, 2012  |  Posted by: Boston Preservation Alliance

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Johnson

Established by Isabella Stewart Gardner in 1903, the museum is housed in a purpose built structure designed to emulate a 15th century Venetian palace. The Gardener Museum presented a new context for art in America by creating a museum where the visitors experienced music, beautiful gardens, and historic and contemporary art all in a highly personal setting.  Today, the museum functions much in the same way, exposing thousands of visitors a year to priceless artifacts and stunning visual arts.

But with its popularity increasing each year, the museum was in dire need of renovations to accommodate its growing interest from the public. A new 71,000 square foot addition designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop was the main feature of the renovations that took place over the past year. The addition connects to the main palace via a glass corridor and includes four floating pavilions which house a visitor and orientation area, special exhibition gallery for light-sensitive objects, a state of the art acoustically isolated music hall, a café, gift shop, office spaces, and conservation labs. The addition was carried out by Shawmut Design and Construction working with local Architect Stantec and was finished in early 2012.

Modifications to the original palace are restricted by Gardner’s will, but the design team was able to relocate one installation to provide a link from the expansion to the original palace. Additionally, historical doors and windows previously blocked from use were restored and replaced to allow for the reintegration of space previously hidden from the public. All aspects of the renovation are LEED certified.  Visitors will be sure to marvel at the new additions, and at the same time take comfort in the fact that the original palace still remains much as it was when it first opened its doors over a century ago.

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