In a meeting late today, the Board of Trustees of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
voted unanimously to proceed with the museums proposed new building and palace restoration project. The vote recognizes that the project has received all necessary regulatory approvals and that the museum has met a critical internal benchmark in its capital fundraising.
The new building and palace restoration project is essential to the long-term preservation of the historic museum and collection, says Barbara Hostetter, President of the Board of Trustees. It ensures that the museum will continue to provide for the education and enjoyment of the public forever, as Isabella Stewart Gardner intended. The project will include a new building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, adjacent to the museum, and important restoration work in the historic palace.
This moment brings us an important and encouraging step closer to ensuring that the museum will continue to inspire and engage the public for generations to come, says Anne Hawley, the Norma Jean Calderwood Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. We deeply appreciate the extraordinary generosity and support of all those who share our passion for the Gardner and for our continuing efforts to carry on Isabella Gardners rich legacy.
This project is first and foremost about preserving the palace and the collection, says John Lowell Gardner, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and great grand-nephew of Isabella Gardner. But it is also about an interplay of the arts that will continue to breathe life into the museum. This project is a harmonious marriage of preservation and progress.
Strategic planning for the project began nearly a decade ago. Following the installation of a museum-wide, state-of-theart climate control system (1991-1996), the museum recognized a continuing critical need to reduce wear-and-tear on the historic museum building and collection. This project is the Gardners latest effort to ensure the museums future, adds Hawley. At the same time, it will anticipate keeping life in the palace with programming on an appropriate scale, a scale which the palace was built for.
Formal regulatory review of the project began in fall 2006. The project has the support of all leading city and state historic, preservation, and regulatory agenciesBoston Landmarks Commission (BLC), Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC), Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), and the Boston Preservation Alliance (BPA). The project has also been approved by the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts which, in March 2009, ruled that the project is entirely consistent with Isabella Gardners Will. The project has also earned the strong endorsement of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, City Council President Michael P. Ross, and the museums institutional neighbors and community groups in the Fenway including the Fenway Community Development Corporation (Fenway CDC) and the Fenway Alliance.
The Board vote marks the final formal approval the museum needs to move forward with the project. Enabling and site preparation work will begin later this month; visitor hours will not be affected.