History and Today

The unique interplay between the Courtyard and the Museum galleries offers visitors a fresh view of the courtyard from almost every room, inviting connections between art and landscape.

Isabella Gardner was an avid gardener, and created theme gardens—an Italian garden and a Japanese garden—at her summer house in Brookline, Massachusetts. She also shared her love of growing things with fellow Bostonians, filling the large bay window of her Beacon Street townhouse with changing plant displays and establishing an urban window box contest. Today her legacy continues as the lush central courtyard is regularly transformed with new plants and colors in nine dramatic seasonal displays, including the beloved Hanging Nasturtiums display each April.

In the new wing which opened in 2012, visitors can now enjoy walking through the working greenhouses where plants are being prepared and cultivated before they are installed in the Courtyard garden. Often these plants are in full bloom and represent the horticultural skill and excellence exemplified by the staff. At the end of the Greenhouse corridor, a classroom is used with school and community partners and the public for activities related to plants and horticulture.