February 23, 1903

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Opens

Greater Boston

On this day in 1903, Isabella Stewart Gardner's newly completed home and museum was opened to the public for the first time. The grand building on the Fenway was the realization of Mrs. Gardner's dream to give Bostonians the chance to experience the work of the great masters. She herself had traveled all over the world, first to visit works of art and then to collect them. Enormously wealthy, she built a museum modeled on the Venetian palaces she so admired. Strong willed and high-spirited, she was a flamboyant figure on Boston's social scene. She threw elaborate parties, attended boxing matches, baseball games, and horse races. The museum she left the city remains one of its greatest cultural treasures.

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