An ebullient Anne Hawley, director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, speaking at the press preview for the expansion
By sheer good luck, my drive back home from my visit to Salem, MA (where I reviewed for the Wall Street Journal the Shapeshifting show at the Peabody Essex Museum) coincided with the press preview for Renzo Piano‘s expansion of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
As it happened, that press preview also coincided with the Jan. 11 court date in the case against Whitey Bulger, an alleged former Boston crime boss who some believe might have something to say about the unsolved 1990 theft of 13 works (including three Rembrandts and a Vermeer) from the Gardner.
In my just-posted Huffington Post appraisal—Gardner Wander: The New, the Old, the Glass Bottleneck in Between—I take you on a tour of the new and old building in words, images and a 13-minute video. This is my first HuffPost piece to be accorded a big photo banner and byline at the top of the Huffington Post Arts page.
You’ll hear director Anne Hawley and architect Piano speak in the new concert hall
near the beginning of my video. At the end, you’ll hear the Gardner’s
resident chamber orchestra rehearsing there. In between, you’ll see the “glass bottleneck” that I refer to in the headline, and hear an extended riff on the Gardner’s tapestries by Oliver Tostmann, curator of the collection.
Although I’ve been critical about several of Piano’s past museum expansions (High Museum, Morgan Library and Museum, Los Angeles County Museum, Art Institute of Chicago), I deemed this one to be “an appropriate solution to a pressing problem—the need to preserve
Isabella’s unique creation while providing the space and services that
modern museum visitors expect and museum staffers need.”
Reasonable people will disagree. It’s always controversial to attach a spiffy modern addition to a beloved historic building. Take a look and judge for yourself.
One thing seemed clear. These key players apparently really enjoyed working together.