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Old 01-22-2008, 08:33 PM   #21
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

The greenhouse, looking east

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Old 04-01-2008, 11:16 PM   #22
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

BRA OKs Gardner Museum expansion
By Tom Mashberg
Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Boston?s historic Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum moved a critical step closer to its grandest expansion in a century yesterday after the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved a plan to include a new building and a streetside showcase for the museum?s greenhouses.

?A new building is essential to the preservation of the Gardner, providing the space required to support the needs of the palace and its treasures,? the museum said in a press release. ?The additional space will allow the museum to better accommodate the demands of visitor access? as well as the museum?s many arts programs.

The BRA?s approval came after 18 months of discussion with the Boston Landmarks Commission, the Massachusetts Commission and the Boston Preservation Alliance ?to review the museum?s planning process and to ensure that the critical preservation goals of the project are being met,? the museum statement said.

It follows on the approval of the plan in December by the Boston Civic Design Commission. The museum also needs the go-ahead of the Zoning Board of Appeals and Office of the Attorney General. The AG?s office must ensure that the alterations do not conflict with Isabella Stewart Gardner?s will, which places strict parameters on changes to the facility.

The new building is designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, the museum said.


Link
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:45 AM   #23
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

Boston Globe - April 2, 2008
Quote:
Critics fear expansion will alter museum's style
Increase in visitors necessitates $60m plan, Gardner staff says


By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff | April 2, 2008

A dramatic addition proposed for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by renowned architect Renzo Piano is troubling to some Mission Hill residents, who said it could violate the conditions of the art maven's will.

The plan for a new Piano-designed complex that would be built behind the existing museum was approved unanimously by the Boston Redevelopment Authority's board yesterday. It would contain a performance hall, educational space, a new entrance lobby, museum shop, cafe and kitchen, greenhouse, and other space.

While the Boston Preservation Alliance and a number of groups based in the Fenway neighborhood endorse the expansion, another organization, Friends of Historic Mission Hill, is asking the Boston Landmarks Commission to head off some of the proposed changes, saying they would violate instructions Gardner included in her will to preserve the original museum, which was built in the 15th-century Venetian palazzo style.

"It's like one of the 10 special buildings in the whole city," said Alison Pultinas, who has led the Mission Hill effort. "The intention of the property was a walled palace, monastic on the outside and palatial on the inside. We're concerned about the scale of the project, the authenticity of the museum experience, and changes to how people experience the Palace."

The proposed $60 million project includes a 60,000-square-foot glass addition and renovation of the fourth floor of the Palace, as the original Gardner is called. The new build ing would be about 50 feet from the existing main structure and 62 feet high, about the same as the Palace, and would connect to the main building through the garden.

The project would "create a building that is special in its own right, while respecting the unique nature and historic integrity of the Palace," the museum said in documents filed with the city.

The expansion is needed to accommodate visitors, which have increased to 200,000 a year, and to relieve overcrowded conditions that museum director Anne Hawley described to the BRA board yesterday. "We have people working in basements and closets," she said. "It's a nightmare, frankly."

One of Boston's most beloved and quirkiest institutions, the Palace was built around 1901 as a residence and museum, and features a flowering courtyard at its center and a collection of 2,500 objects that includes the first Matisse painting acquired by a museum in the United States. Eighteen years ago last month, thieves broke into the museum and stole 13 works of art - including three Rembrandts, a Vermeer, and a Manet - a crime that remains unsolved.

To make way for the new building, the Gardner would demolish a carriage house, annex, and part of a perimeter wall. The project would require relocating one work of art - a sarcophagus - as well as moving the main entrance from The Fenway to Evans Way.

Pultinas believes the changes, including demolition of the carriage house, may violate Gardner's will about preserving the property and the collection inside.

"Her will referred to the buildings, carriage house, and Palace," she said.

The Mission Hill group petitioned the Landmarks Commission in February to designate the Gardner complex as a landmark, which would significantly restrict what alterations could be made without commission approval. The Gardner agreed to participate in the commission's review of the project. A meeting is scheduled for next week where the commission will vote whether to give conceptual approval.

But Gardner's will also stipulates that the museum be maintained for public enjoyment, and officials believe the expansion is critical to fulfilling that obligation. The museum has submitted the project to the state attorney general for review, and will seek a ruling from probate court on whether the addition violates Gardner's will.

"We think, in the context of the overall purpose of Mrs. Gardner's will to create a museum for the education and enjoyment of the public forever, this is a very reasonable step to take," said Stephen W. Kidder, a lawyer for the museum.

The Fenway Alliance, a group of more than 20 institutions, said in a letter of support that the expansion "will be an ideal complement to Isabella Stewart Gardner's palace" and "will enable the museum to better preserve one of Boston's most treasured cultural resources."

Another supporter, the Boston Preservation Alliance, wrote that while the carriage house is "an interesting building," it "has never been part of the visitor experience."

Thomas C. Palmer Jr. can be reached at tpalmer@globe.com.
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Old 04-02-2008, 12:48 PM   #24
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

"monastic on the outside and palatial on the inside."

Don't worry sweetheart, it's still going to be palatial around the whole regalia.
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Old 04-02-2008, 04:06 PM   #25
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

There's no way the court rules on the mere mention of the carriage house in the will over the "enjoyment of the public" provision.
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Old 04-02-2008, 04:08 PM   #26
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

The court will have to rule on moving any piece of art, though. I expect they'll approve it, but they might attach conditions.
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Old 04-02-2008, 04:27 PM   #27
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

To play devil's advocate allow me to ask a few question. Maybe someone with more insite into the Gardner or the art world in General can help me out.

What has changed about the Gardner over the past 100 years that it now requires all this space?
Why is a cafe necessary now, but not 50 years ago?
What are these people who are working in closets doing that didn't need to be done 50 years ago?
Will people stop going to the Gardner if there is no gift shop?
Will the Gardner really go broke without it?

Again, I'm not saying it not or arguing against the addition. I just hope it's not a 'keeping up with the Jones' kind of thing.
I can just see some shady marketing consultant talking about "chasing the culture-dollar" and not wanting to lose the important "18-25 demographic" to the ICA. Brr.
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Old 04-02-2008, 04:30 PM   #28
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

There could theoretically have been an expansion of tour guides because of increased visitor demand, or an explosion in resident scholars interested in the work housed there. Things like an overpriced cafe might be necessary to pay for things that weren't forseen a century ago - like maintenance, restoration work, or, well, sufficient security...
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Old 04-02-2008, 04:34 PM   #29
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

What is the status of climate control inside the Gardner? I'm sure people were not thinking about that a century ago.
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Old 04-03-2008, 11:09 AM   #30
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

I know one of the issues was having a proper space for performances and lectures. The room they use now is doubly used as gallery space, and when the lights have to be turned up for events it damages the paintings.

I think Ron's point about climate control is important as well. If you've been to the museum, you've probably noticed how low the lighting is. I believe that's because of some stipulation in the will that limits the usual preservation methods, thus requiring the staff to be extra careful with what they have.
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Old 04-06-2008, 12:09 PM   #31
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion



the carriage house (now used as a potting shed, and to be demolished)



images and story from today's Boston Herald:

Quote:
Gardner Museum branches out with major expansion. Classrooms, galleries among new additions

By Eva Wolchover | Sunday April 6, 2008

For more than 80 years, the precious contents of a dismantled ground-floor art gallery have been entombed in storage at Boston?s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - boxed, catalogued and shelved out of the way to make room for winter wear, soggy umbrellas, backpacks and baby strollers.

The former Vaticchino Gallery, now a cloakroom, is crammed near the museum?s exit. There, visitors block the tight departure hallway as they orient themselves, remove coats and check their things.

Now, under a multimillion-dollar expansion project, add-ons like the cloakroom, kitchen, cafe, basement classrooms and concert hall will all shift from the museum?s focal point, the Venetian palace, to a new building.
Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, that building has passed a series of approval hurdles and will add an elegant new element to the historic Fenway district.

One payoff: The contents of that long-ago dismantled gallery will return to their rightful place, as designated by Gardner herself.

?It?s really important to understand this is being done to preserve the palace and the collection,? said Anne Hawley, director of the museum. ?And also to preserve this rich legacy that Gardner gave the city that was so far ahead of her time, in using a museum as a place for learning and thinking, and art-making, and listening to music, and experiencing great gardens.?

In her day, Gardner dealt with 2,000 visitors a year and a staff of 10 to 15. Today, 200,000 people visit the museum annually and 10,000 take in concerts in the Tapestry Room on the second floor.

On weekends, foot traffic is so heavy that guards keep visitors waiting outside, so as not to exceed the 800-capacity limit. ?You just simply cannot put any more wear and tear on the galleries to get any more people in,? Hawley said.

The 60,000-square-foot new building will sit 50 feet behind the palace. It will house a concert hall designed to mirror the palace courtyard, with musicians performing on the floor and visitors seated on tiered balconies.
It also will include kitchens, a restaurant, gift shop, educational classrooms, staff offices, exhibition galleries, new greenhouses and, of course, a cloakroom.

The two buildings will be connected via a glass corridor, which will require one small change in the museum: a sarcophagus will be shifted about 180 degrees. The Herald received an exclusive look at the plans in detail last week.

Though Gardner?s will specifies nothing be changed within the palace from her original layout, Hawley and her staff said the slight change is a small price if it means reinstalling the Vaticchino Gallery and restoring the Tapestry Room from concert hall to gallery.

?I think one of the thing?s that?s really compelling about this project is that it will enable us to return those galleries to their original orientation,? said Katherine Armstrong, public relations manager. ?We say that this is a preservation and restoration project because we?re able to do that.?
Piano?s design for the new building is airy and unobtrusive. The ground floor will have exterior glass walls. Hawley and her staff refer to it as ?floating,? and say the intent is to provide ?transparent? proof of Gardner?s five cornerstones of artistic thinking: historic art, contemporary art, music, education and landscaping.

If all goes according to the plan, Gardner administrators expect to break ground in 2009, Armstrong said. Though it?s too soon to provide a final budget, she said, the ?hard costs? total $60 million.
The project awaits final approval from the Attorney General?s office, in addition to ongoing design review by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Massachusetts Historical Commission and Boston Landmarks Commission. The BRA and MHC both have approved the project, but are now approving design details.

If something goes awry, Hawley said, there would be but one alternative for the historic museum, first opened to visitors on Jan. 1, 1903: ?retrenchement.?

That would mean cutting all programs and restricting access to 50,000 ticketed visitors a year, because the museum cannot withstand its rate of wear and tear.

Given that the museum must raise $5 million a year to stay open, cutting programs, concerts and visitation is not a realistic option.

?It?s so hard for people to know her legacy in terms of her patronage, so here they all have a forum - the music, the visual arts and exhibition, the horticultural greenhouses and gardens, and on the first floor we have the classrooms,? Hawley said.

Moving around an architectural model that sits in her fourth-floor office, she added: ?In this transparency, you?ll see children at work learning, whether it?s on the weekends with their families or during the week with our educators. Every single legacy program is given a single form.?

Piano was selected from among 75 architects in a process spanning three years. Museum administrators and trustees deemed it the most in keeping with Gardner?s original vision. ?Renzo says the building has to be like a nephew to a grand-aunt,? said Hawley. ?The palace is a grand-aunt, and the nephew has to be solid, respectful and not showy.?

During the early stages of planning, Hawley said selection committee members considered a simple service building - essentially a utilitarian warehouse - where the museum could house its non-gallery necessities.
?Finally, we said no,? Hawley said. ?The palace has to be respected by another work of art. The new building itself should be a work of art, but a work of art that is deferential to the palace.?
So far the plan, currently being reviewed by the Attorney General?s Office, has gotten unanimous support from city offices and preservation societies, including the Mayor?s Office, Boston Preservation Alliance, Fenway Community Development Corporation, Fenway Alliance, Museum of Fine Arts and Mass College of Art and Design, among others.

Only one neighborhood group, the Friends of Mission Hill, has come out against the plan, saying the proposal violates strictures in Gardner?s will that nothing be changed. Administrators dismiss the criticism, saying Gardner?s restrictions only apply to the palace galleries, not its grounds.

?There?s this great bit in the will where she actually forsees the need for the museum to use the back of the site,? said James Labeck, the project director.

Hawley adds that by providing more space for the museum?s educational, concert, horticultural and artist-in-residence programs, the proposal will breathe new life into Isabella Gardner?s legacy.

?We did not want a show-off building,? Hawley said. ?We wanted an architect who understood the aesthetic of this Venetian-style palazzo and could relate to it in a very respectful way. And we wanted a poetic building.?

Asked what Gardner would likely think of the expansion project, Hawley said, ?I think she would love it, and I know she would love working with Renzo. Working with him is just a thrill.

?I think the fact that he?s Italian, and that Gardner?s passion was Italy and Venice and all things Italian, that he so understands what she loved and he so understands what she?s doing, that he instantly got it. He walked in here for the first time and gasped and said, ?You don?t need an architect. I?m fired! I leave!?

?Because he saw what a work of genius she?d done. And as he grappled, he began to see what he called her ?madness.? ?

As for Gardner?s view of changing the museum, Hawley added: ?She probably would have started this much earlier than we did, she could have just done it!?
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/reg...icleid=1085273

Piano is also doing the renovation and expansion of three of Harvard's museums, which will close on June 30, so that construction can begin. I've yet to see a rendering.
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Last edited by stellarfun; 04-06-2008 at 12:12 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 04-06-2008, 07:53 PM   #32
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

Dammit, I kinda like the carriage house. Too expensive to move it?
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Old 04-06-2008, 08:27 PM   #33
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Herald
That would mean cutting all programs and restricting access to 50,000 ticketed visitors a year, because the museum cannot withstand its rate of wear and tear.
Don't tell them that! They may just oppose it to reduce 'traffic' and 'congestion' in the area.
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Old 04-06-2008, 08:32 PM   #34
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

I like that carriage house too. I wonder if they considered somehow incorporating it into the addition.
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Old 06-01-2008, 04:32 AM   #35
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

An interview with Renzo Piano from The Globe:

Tackling two museums, cherishing the magic

Architect Piano guides Gardner, Harvard projects



(Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)
By Geoff Edgers Globe Staff / June 1, 2008

Renzo Piano always carries a pencil. The Italian architect, now 70, just can't resist sketching as he talks, whether on paper scraps or on one of those hardboard design mockups museum leaders like to show off to their trustees.


Piano came to town recently for meetings involving two high-profile local clients, the Harvard Art Museum and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The Renzo Piano Workshop will be renovating Harvard's Quincy Street museum spaces, which close this month, and it has designed a second building that will be connected by a glass passage to the Gardner. That new building will include a visitors center, a performance hall, and other amenities, and it will serve as the Gardner's main entrance - a plan requiring the museum to demolish a carriage house and part of a wall. Piano spoke during a break from meetings at the Gardner.

Q. Tell me about the Gardner project.
A. Every time I talk to somebody they ask me, "What are you going to do to that museum?" But I think we just want to keep the palace as it is. In the new building, all the ground floor is transparent. You see the palace. Then eventually, when you go there through this link, which is glass, you enter the palace, and from the palace you enjoy and you discover the Gardner the same way.

Q. Why do a project at all? Isn't this museum just perfect the way it is?
A. The reason why everybody's excited and the reason why modestly I'm excited is because this scheme is not just about building, it's also [creating] a way to become healthy for the next few centuries. This lady was incredibly - I use the word mad because I find that madness is sometimes a great quality in a person.

Q. Good crazy.
A. Yes, she was good crazy. Look at this place, it's magic forever. For many centuries. So we have the legacy to preserve this and to provide new things.

Q. Do you have a favorite part of the museum?
A. This [he points to the entrance]. The sense of surprise that you find when you come in, you go through the darkness of that, and suddenly you're there. When you come through the Gardner and you enter, you enter a space that is again compressed. We won't change that.

Q. Let's talk about the Harvard Art Museum job. How do these two assignments compare?
A. They're totally different. That one is more a kind of educational museum. Study centers are going to be central and the collection, of course, is a great collection. [The Gardner] is more about a great legacy of a collection and a lady with a brilliant idea.

Q. Has the Gardner been easier to work on? You've been on the Harvard job for years.
A. Easy is a word you should not use in Boston.

Q. You must have great patience.
A. It's not about patience. Design is about listening. Even this morning, I was late for the Gardner meeting, because when I came we started to walk around, and walking around with your hands in your pocket and watching is a bit like listening to places. This is what you have to do. . . . The good work is when you listen. Listening doesn't mean to be obedient.

Q. Can you be difficult?
A. Sometimes I am.

Q. You get into fights?
A. Of course.

Q. So in the Gardner, what's the thing you fought for the most?
A. Maybe the entrance. But not too much. At my age, I have a great privilege that I only take jobs I like, and I only work with people I love. So I've been fighting. I quit jobs. In Boston, we quit the [planned downtown] tower, for example. We do this all the time. We take only two or three jobs a year, and sometimes when we are not happy we quit the job.

Q. I'm sure you've heard this term: the star architect, or starchitect.
A. I don't know any of them [he smiles].

Q. How many projects can you take on and really dig into? Do you turn down projects?
A. Every day.

Q. So you have a sense in your mind . . .
A. The office should be no more than 100 people. You know why, because above 100 people then you start not to remember the names of people. In the office, we have maybe 20 schemes, but I'll only work on two or three at a time. And some of those schemes are under construction and almost finished. It's a kind of natural selection we do, and the reason we do something like that is because it is mentally a challenge.

Q. Did you see the recent Bloomberg piece in which the critic said you were doing too many projects?
A. I quite like critics. They do their job, and what I'm worried about is boredom. Boredom is killing. But critics never kill.

Q. But you don't get a lot of criticism.
A. Not enough.

Q. When you think of the Harvard and Gardner projects, do you imagine that 50 years from now people will say, "Oh, that's a Renzo Piano building," or do you hope they'll just say, "That's the Gardner, look at how beautiful it is?"
A. I hope they'll all enjoy the Gardner first, but I don't dislike people to remember our work.

Q. You say you want to preserve this palace. Is it at all difficult to have everybody so nervous about any sort of change?
A. You go back home and you sketch and you keep in mind how people feel. A good architect doesn't tell the patient exactly what they want to hear. We found, fundamentally, that doing this was actually adding to the palace a lot for very little. We are not betraying the spirit of the palace, or the approach to the palace. We are just replicating the same emotion.

Geoff Edgers can be reached at gedgers@globe.com. For more on the arts, visit boston.com/ae/ theater_arts/exhibitionist
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Old 06-01-2008, 08:07 AM   #36
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

Quote:
A. Easy is a word you should not use in Boston.
.
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Old 06-01-2008, 10:17 AM   #37
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

Will they ever get their Vermeer back?
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Old 06-01-2008, 10:38 AM   #38
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

Don't forget about Rembrandt, Manet, Degas and Flinck.

A sad story. Let's hope they do get them back.
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Old 01-27-2009, 01:11 PM   #39
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

For those unfamiliar, Alex Beam is a lifestyle columnist, not a reporter, so keep that in mind while reading.

Boston Globe - Jan 27, 2009
Quote:
Testing Mrs. Gardner's will

By Alex Beam, Globe Columnist | January 27, 2009

It's like a pillow fight at the Tavern Club. On one side, you have fuddy-duddy preservationists, High Church Episcopalians, and serious art aficionados worried about the future of a genuine Boston treasure - the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Opposing them: museum president and Tavern member Anne Hawley, her moneybags board president Barbara Hostetter (think: cable TV fortune) and "Renzo," the glib, imperious Genoa-based starchitect Renzo Piano, who proposes to turn "Mrs. Jack's" Fenway jewel into a "shopping mall." Or so his detractors say.

But first, the will. Both sides acknowledge that Piano's grandiose scheme cannot proceed under the terms of Gardner's 10-page will, filed in 1924. In a nutshell, Mrs. Gardner forbade any monkeying around with her gorgeous, Italianate palazzo and its contents. So last month the museum's lawyer, Stephen Kidder of Hemenway & Barnes, asked the attorney general to permit a "reasonable deviation" from Mrs. Gardner's wishes.

According to the museum's filings, Piano needs to punch through a cloister wall, fiddle with a sarcophagus, and raze a lovely carriage house to mount his multi-story, glassine vision next to the existing museum. (One of Piano's early proposals suggested surrounding the museum with a canal.) In court papers and in public appearances, Hawley insists the Piano-designed extension is desperately needed to relieve overcrowding of staff and visitors at the museum. "If [the museum] remains as it is, it's going to die," she told an audience at the Boston Public Library last week. "It's our responsibility to keep the museum alive."

Inconveniently, some people disagree. The Friends of Mission Hill - these would be the fuddy-duddy preservationists - have retained attorney Lynne Viti, a Wellesley College professor, to do battle with Kidder. "Our position is, 'Hey, wait a minute, building a 60,000-square-foot structure is not a little deviation from the will,' " Viti says. "That is completely going against this very eccentric and unique woman's vision. It is just too extreme."

Mrs. Gardner's will has been challenged before. The museum was granted two previous deviations, for minor requests. More recently the state pushed back against a proposed exhibit of Venetian art in the storied Tapestry Room. That exhibit was relegated to the fourth floor.

Here's the part I love: If the parties can't reconcile their differences, the will awards the whole kit and kaboodle to . . . Harvard! "If [the Trustees] shall at any time change the general disposition or arrangement of any articles . . . of said Museum at my death," Mrs. Gardner wrote, "I give the said land, Museum [and contents] . . . to the President and Fellows of Harvard College."

The World's Greatest University gets the World's Greatest Art Museum? "Not a chance," opines one lawyer in the case. Harvard says it supports the proposed deviation.

I have some bad news for my High Church brothers and sisters: Things are looking bleak. Last Friday the AG's office said the museum could sidestep the will "to continue to carry out its responsibilities to preserve and protect the mission of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum as envisioned by the founder." The Supreme Judicial Court is the ultimate arbiter. Viti's opposing brief is due next week, and what happens next is anyone's guess.

Why a pillow fight? Because everyone is acting disturbingly civil. All the parties praise the patience and expertise of the attorney general's expert, Johanna Soris, and Viti says she has had only "polite exchanges" with Kidder. "There's a lot of becoming gentlemanliness here," she says. How very Boston.

How much will this cost, and does the Gardner have the dough? Hawley refuses to discuss finances. (I'm told $150 million.) "This is going to be a costly project," Viti says. "What happens if they don't have the financing in place? Then you will have lost something you can never restore."

I wouldn't bet against the Gardner on this one. So brace yourself for Renzo's glossy vision of Las-Vegas-on-Palace Road. Maybe it's time for a change.

Alex Beam is a Globe columnist. His e-dress is beam@globe.com.
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Old 01-27-2009, 07:14 PM   #40
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Re: Gardner Museum to undertake $60 million expansion

I don't understand why the Carriage House facade isn't being relocated and used in the inset of the four cubes. It could frame a rear entrance and provide the opportunity for an interesting dialogue between old and new.

Although I appreciate the preservationist stab at honoring Gardner's Will, I must say that the 'Friends of Mission Hill' should really butt out of the museum addition's meetings. Mission Hill doesn't have a damn thing to do with a Museum in the West Fenway. Setting precedents for neighborhood groups to overreach into other neighborhoods' affairs is a terrible idea in a city already plagued by divide and conquer neighborhood politics.
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