Inflatable medallion by landscape architect Ken Smith deters evil spirits from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

(Courtesy Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum)

(Courtesy Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum)

An unmissable flower-power medallion on a gold chain now fronts the otherwise plain-though-historic facade of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum facing the Boston Fens. Featuring a whorl of psychedelic colors spiraling dizzyingly, the pop art–style inflatable installation riffs on the museum’s large wheel window, which forms a transect line between the museum and the installation.

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Van Valkenburgh to Design Gardner’s Garden

Friday, April 13, 2012
Museum in 1946 following a Japanese-inspired update. (Courtesy Gardner Museum)

The Monks Garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1946, following a Japanese-inspired redesign. (Courtesy Gardner Museum)

“I don’t have time to read, because I trot about with the gardeners. And the little monk’s garden at Fenway Court is very dear too,” Isabella Stewart Gardner wrote to her art advisor Bernard Berenson in 1908.

The walled “monk’s garden” flanks the Gardner Museum‘s Venetian-style palazzo (the house originally known as Fenway Court that became today’s museum) and was first planted in 1903 in an Italianate-style with elegant evergreens running along the walls and pathways. In the 1940s museum director Morris Carter resdesigned the Monks Garden using a Japanese style plan but seeding it with New England wildflowers. For the garden’s last update in the 1970s, Sasaki Associates added bluestone pavers and wooden benches. And the recent addition to the Gardner campus by Renzo Piano included a repositioning of the museum’s main entrance, a move that gives the Monks Garden a much higher profile, warranting another facelift. Read More

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