Intrigue in an oasis

The house was taken down by a stomach bug last week, and with deadlines looming, my energy went towards painting work versus blogging work. In between everyone's bouts and loads of laundry, I got some reading done, and I was reminded of my happy experiences at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum when it cropped up in the headlines - again.

If you've ever been to the museum, you most likely felt as a lot of us have: like this is your home, and you're privileged to live there.

via Google + museum page

via Google + museum page

My personal discovery of the Gardner was during my internship at the Boston MFA, which is very noticeably across the street. The MFA commands its space, with limited foliage and maximum frontage. Nothing subtle about it.

image via Creative Commons

image via Creative Commons

The Gardner sits quietly, perhaps a private home silently waiting visitors. If I remember correctly - it was a long time ago - the building sits close to the Fens (Fenway park, too), quietly magnificent gardens containing another hidden gem, the Victory Gardens from WWII. Check them out, because I digress.

As an (albeit temporary) employee, the Gardner was free so I took advantage to visit during one lunchtime. There were few people, and I had the galleries I entered first to myself except for the quiet but very watchful guards. Then I happened into the courtyard. I wasn't prepared for the courtyard.

In the middle of a typically hot Summer workday - after having commuted from Providence that morning and sweated through the T, I found a little hidden bit of Italy. I remember wanting to stay and eat lunch (I was really hungry), but it wasn't allowed. It's really easy to forget this is a museum.

So I went on to explore the remainder of the building (the top floor, Mrs Gardner's rooms, was closed to the public). As I wandered from gallery to gallery, I was still overcome by the feeling that this was my place. There's a sense of solitude, not a lonely one, a secret garden, happy one. One full of treasures, exactly as Mrs Gardner left it, as she intended.

It makes total sense, then that the infamous heist (slightly salacious details here) feels so personal. The empty frame with shreds of damaged canvas doesn't help.

It feels much like when your own belongings are stolen, the violation and loss of privacy. I hope the artworks are restored, someday, to their rightful places. And I'm dying to know how they'll restore the Rembrandt. Hope that's a future blog post itself.