Friday, January 22, 2010

New Gardner Museum Addition

I just read here about recently unveiled plans for a new addition to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. I'm really surprised about this new modern wing, especially since Isabella Stewart Gardner's will requires that the museum cannot be altered from how she originally designed and curated the collection display. In fact, in order to get approval for this new modern addition, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had to approve a deviation from the will last year.

But why meddle with Gardner's aesthetic vision? I think that shows great disrespect for the person who amassed this collection in the first place. Gardner stipulated that if her collection/museum ever deviated from her aesthetic vision, then her whole collection would immediately be transferred to the ownership of Harvard University. (Until recently, the museum staff has followed these instructions insofar as to hang empty frames when masterpieces were stolen off of the wall in 1990.) If Isabella knew about the new changes taking place in her museum, I'm sure she'd sent the collection to Harvard posthaste.

What do other people think? Am I being irrational? Do you think the museum is justified in their plans for expansion? Maybe I'm just a historical purist - I hate to see things change just to accommodate modernity.