Art museums are designed to celebrate the end results of the creative process. But one of Boston's most highbrow institutions, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, has developed new programming to foster that process on-site.
While the "look but don't touch" rule still applies throughout the lavish palace that Gardner called home, the museum's new wing, designed by architect Renzo Piano, has a dedicated space for hands-on artmaking. In a sleek studio stocked with a wide range of supplies, windows run from floor to ceiling, flooding the room with natural light and turning the crafters inside into a living exhibition.
Access is free with museum admission, and the space is open every weekend, so guests of all ages and experience levels can act on impulse if inspiration strikes while wandering the Gardner's three floors of grandeur.
But what's most exciting is the studio's recently launched educational series. On the first weekend of each month, from now through March, guest artists are hosting workshops in a variety of mediums.
On November 3, try watercolor botanical illustration with guidance from Sarah Roche, education director at Wellesley College Friends of Horticulture, who's known internationally for her paintings and illustrations. December offers a chance to build assemblage collages with Amy Hitchcock, a self-taught local artist who works with found objects.
"There is no pressure to come with any prior skill set or knowledge of art making," says Gardner studio educator Kate Bullen. "All you have to have is an open mind and a willingness to explore your creative potential."
For a full calendar of artist-led workshops, visit gardnermuseum.org.
THE ISABELLA STEWART GARDNER MUSEUM:: 280 The Fenway, Boston :: 617.566.1401 :: The Education Studio is open Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 am to 4 pm :: Free with museum admission ($15/students $5 with valid college ID)