Gardner chose to site her Museum on the edge of the newly built Back Bay Fens, a part of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace, because she saw the potential for this new landscape to enable, inform, and enhance the city of Boston. Today the Museum continues to recognize the importance of landscape architecture through its landscape department, landscape lectures, and landscape exhibitions.
Gardens, both interior and exterior, are an integral part of the Gardner Museum experience today. When Isabella built the Museum, she created an experience that was as much about flowers and plants, artfully arranged, as it was about masterpieces of art. The culmination of that vision is the courtyard but botanical images can be found throughout the Museum.
Visitors are greeted by a magnificent display of flowers and plants in the Dorothy McGee Greenhouse, seen from the Museum’s entrance. While some of these flowers will be rotated into the courtyard, others, like the night-blooming cereus cactus, are examples of plants that Gardner grew in her greenhouses. Visitors are welcome to stroll through the greenhouse to get a closer look at the plants, smell fragrant specimens, and watch horticulturists at work or ask them questions.
When Renzo Piano designed the New Wing, he created views of the external gardens through the glass walls of the building. The result is a visual connection between the Museum and the Monk’s Garden, the Jordan Garden, and the Lynch Garden, extending to the green spaces that link the Museum to the adjacent Evans Way Park.