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Isabel Stuart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA

This museum is perhaps the wealthiest, in terms of paintings and artifacts, small museum in America. Located directly behind the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, it is an authentic replica of a sixteenth century Venetian villa with an open central courtyard.

Mrs. Gardner was a wealthy avant-garde art collector who traveled extensively, befriended bohemians in Europe as well as promising art connoisseurs and managed to collect an astounding number of Renaissance art forms, Impressionist paintings as well as American and European memorabilia.

Having received permission from her wealthy husband to build this villa in Boston, she proceeded to enlist both Italian workmen and authentic Italian materials to sculpt a museum to her fancy-which was innovative and as controversial as her own personal life.

It is a joy to enter the museum, especially on a gloomy winter day, and see the entire central courtyard bedecked in tropical flowers, greenery and statues. Everywhere, as one mounts marble staircases, banisters and early Italian wainscotting, one can view rooms of paintings and artifacts that date from as early as the 12th and 13th centuries.

It is a jewel of Boston and a visit is well worth the effort!