Renzo Piano extension for Isabella Stewart Gardner
By The Art Newspaper. Museums, Issue 191, May 2008
Published online: 01 May 2008
NEW YORK. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has received approval from the Boston Landmarks Commission to build a modernist glass structure designed by Renzo Piano. The new building is part of a $165m expansion project aimed at reducing the wear and tear
on the institution’s original 1901 Venetian Renaissance-style building which Mrs Gardner bequeathed to
the city in 1924, along with her art collection.
Although the plan has received widespread support, some preservationists object to the proposed demolition of a 1907 carriage house. Local architectural historian Steve Jerome argues that the building is integral to the property’s Italianate character and should be preserved. The museum’s director, Anne Hawley, counters that the building, which has been used for storage and a visiting-artist apartment, “was never public and never part of the visitor experience” and is not protected by Mrs Gardner’s will. The plan also calls for cutting through the museum’s back wall to create a link to the new building. This would require moving an interior sculptural ensemble, an act which needs the approval of the Massachusetts state attorney general and probate court as Mrs Gardner’s will stipulates that the galleries must remain as she left them. A court hearing has not yet been scheduled. J.E.K.
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