BY GABRIELLE HICK
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Garden. Photo by Irene de la Torre, via Flickr.
At Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, paintings by European heavyweights like Sandro Botticelli and Henri Matisse keep company with panel screens from the Japanese Edo period and wooden statuary from eleventh-century China. This artistic diversity is a testament to the multifaceted and worldly woman who built up the collection.
But it is the museum’s longstanding admissions policy that offers a glimpse of founder Isabella Stewart Gardner’s irrepressible personality. As her will dictates, any visitor wearing Red Sox memorabilia receives a discount, and any guest named Isabella may enter free of charge.
The Isabella of our story was born in New York City in 1840 to a family of wealthy linen merchants. Her early years mirrored those of other well-born ladies—she attended private schools at home and abroad, where she was educated in music, dance, and art, and studied languages useful for European voyages………