Isabel the Original

Isabel the Original

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Born in 1840, Isabella was a curious and mischievous child. When her parents brought her to Europe, she loved the excitement of travel and the artwork in the museums she visited. She told them, “If I ever have any money of my own, I am going to build a palace and fill it with beautiful things.” Many years later, Isabella Stewart Gardner curated, designed and built a world-class art museum which opened in 1903. Isabella was never afraid to do things in her own way. Small in stature, she was a powerhouse of a woman, acting in bold contrast to the Victorian code of her time. She wore a Red Sox banner on her head to symphony, walked lion cubs down the streets of Boston and served only champagne and donuts at her museum opening.

Isabella the Original chronicles Isabella’s life. The local press wrote, “Isabella is one of the seven wonders of Boston and there is nobody like her in any city in this country.” Her legacy, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a Venetian palace in Boston filled with art, live performances and a breathtaking four-story courtyard of exotic plants, statues and fountains.


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