Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
aNNE H. FitzPatrick Façade
In the early 1990s, Anne Hawley, the new director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, began showcasing experimental programs, inviting local students to engage with the Museum, and launching an Artist-in-Residence program. Given the constraints of the museum's limited space, the question before the director and the trustees was how to bring Isabella’s legacy into the 21st century.
In 2002 an ambitious plan was presented. It called for cutting-edge programs—alongside a major historic preservation program. To allow the historic building to showcase the connection, and handle thousands of visitors a week, the plan called for a new building of 80,000 square feet. Like Isabella’s Museum, the new building was envisioned to be a work of art in its own right, and Renzo Piano, the Pritzer-Prize winning architect, was hired to design it. Four major design proposals later, $100 million was raised, plans were finalized, and construction began. Construction lasted two and a half years, and the New Wing opened in 2012.
The Gardner Museum is committed to public art. The concept of the museum’s New Wing with its openness and transparency, represents the institution’s engagement with contemporary artists and welcomes new audiences.
The exterior of the New Wing has been designed so that a portion is given over to a revolving stream of Artists-in-Residence. The commissioned artwork is showcased for six months at a time on the Anne H. Fitzpatrick Façade. Upon the installation of each new façade, an opening breakfast is held for the artist. This program continues Isabella’s legacy of cultivating talent and supporting artists.