I’m in love. Not with a person but with a place. This past Sunday I attended A Venetian Valentine Evening at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA. I am ashamed to admit that this was the first time in my 30-odd years I have visited this museum despite the fact that I am a lifelong Boston area resident.
The event was described in the press release as a “romantic feast for all the senses” and I can at least attest to the visual sense. Upon entering the main section of the museum I was greeted with an inner courtyard whose atrium stretched three stories high creating a vast open space. The courtyard boasted a Roman mosaic floor and there were marble statues scattered throughout along with a beautiful flowering garden. I stood there mouth agape and immediately pictured myself seated there for hours on end writing. Alas, I had no time for such indulgences as I had arrived an hour after the doors opened.
I checked in and was told that servers would be wandering the downstairs with food and drink, but sadly the only evidence I ever saw of food were empty dirty dishes and glasses scattered in baskets around the main floor, and an occasional server with an empty tray. Perhaps this was because of my late arrival? Still, I admit I was disappointed as I had arrived quite hungry. There was an open bar serving the Venetian-inspired cocktail, the Bellini; however the bar was so thoroughly crowded that I decided I’d rather spend my time exploring the museum than trying to acquire a drink.
Upon checking in I had been given a program to aid me in a self-guided tour “highlighting some of the Gardner’s more evocative paintings and pairing these works with a love poem.” Guests were instructed to begin the tour on the third floor and work their way down. Along with descriptions of the art and the accompanying poetry the program contained directions on how to find each piece that was chosen for the tour. Sounds easy enough, right?