Artists-in-Residence

The Artist-in-Residence program was launched in 1992 as part of an effort to recapture the vitality that was present during Isabella’s lifetime.

Isabella Stewart Gardner surrounded herself with creative people—musicians, dancers, writers, scholars, and painters. During her lifetime, Fenway Court was a venue for concerts, a gathering place for thinkers—and even a place for artists to work. Isabella famously invited John Singer Sargent to use the Gothic Room as his studio to paint the portraits of Boston society.

John Singer Sargent Painting Gretchen Osgood Warren and her daughter Rachel in the Gothic Room
J. Templeman Coolidge (American, 1856-1945), John Singer Sargent Painting Gretchen Osgood Warren and her daughter Rachel in the Gothic Room, Fenway Court, 1903. Platinum print, 16.2 x 13.7 cm (6 3/8 x 5 3/8 in.)

The Artist-in-Residence program was launched in 1992, after the Museum’s 4th director, Anne Hawley, reached out to the artistic community seeking ways to reshape the institution and recapture the vitality that was present during Isabella’s lifetime. Artists are invited to live, think, and work at the Museum, usually for a month, in an apartment located in the Gardner’s New Wing. Artists are given full access to the collection and the archives, along with support from the curators, conservators, and staff. Residents are not required to produce anything but new work often develops during or after their stay.

Since 1992, close to one hundred artists, both emerging and established, have enjoyed the gift of time spent with the Gardner’s collection and archives. Artists-in-Residence have come from around the world—from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Residents are visual artists—painters, sculptors, photographers—as well as writers, poets, musicians, chefs, designers, dancers, and installation artists. Artists continue to feel connected and often return to engage with the Museum for years after their initial stay. 

What Petrifies You?, a workshop by Artist-in-Residence Cesare Pietroiusti and students from the S.M.F.A, Boston, January 20-24, 2016.
What Petrifies You?, a workshop by Artist-in-Residence Cesare Pietroiusti and students from the S.M.F.A, Boston, January 20-24, 2016.

These residencies continue the legacy of the Gardner Museum as a place for creativity in the tradition of Isabella’s salons and highlight the founder’s unique relationship with the artistic community of her time. Artists use their residency to research and reflect, and in return they nourish the Museum, through their interactions with staff and by turning their individual perspectives into exhibitions, performances, school partnerships, and conversations with the public.

Past Artists-in-Residence