More About Isabella Stewart Gardner And Her Museum
Image 1 of 7
Isabella Stewart Gardner
Isabella Stewart Gardner, shown here in an 1888 portrait, was born in New York City in 1840. In 1891 she inherited $1.6 million from her father, David Stewart, who had made his fortune in the linen trade with Ireland and through investments in Midwestern copper mines. She and her husband, Jack Gardner, agreed to spend the money on art. Though her husband died in 1898, she bought land to house the art collection in the then-empty Fenway in Boston and hired an architect. Construction of the museum was completed by late 1901, and after a year spent arranging the collection, she opened Fenway Court, as the museum was known in her lifetime, to the public on New Year's Day 1903. She continued to buy new works and rearrange the collection and added several new galleries in the rebuilt east wing. When she died in 1924, she left the museum an endowment of $1.2 million, stipulating in her will that the works of art must remain as she had arranged them.