This is total bullshit! If I was in Boston right now I would be chaining myself to the gates. Better yet, I think someone with more crazy follow through than me should stage a coup and take over for Anne Hawley, who obviously has lost her mind.
This is not ok.
And if you really thought there was any suspense over this issue:
The board of trustees at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (ISGM), director Anne Hawley, and Isabella’s own great-grandnephew (and chairman of the board of trustees–which, by the way I am not capitalizing because I don’t think they’re worth it), and the upstairs staff of the ISGM decided it’s perfectly alright to knock down Isabella’s carriage house that’s been standing since 1907. She helped design it, her dogs are buried next to it, and GUESS WHAT!? It’s no one’s to tear down but hers. Somehow, in true corrupt Boston style, the Boston Landmarks Commission, Mayor Menino and the Mass Historical Commission thinks it’s ok.
I can guarantee that Isabella is trying to punch her way out of her grave. As if these people haven’t fucked her museum up enough. First they didn’t have proper air circulation or cooling systems, so were letting the paint peel off old paintings.
Up until this past director, the directors and their families lived in Isabella’s old quarters on the 4th floor. How many visitors walked through the galleries at night and pocketed little things? Why haven’t the paintings from the 1990 theft been returned? What’s up with that Boston FBI? Hmmmm??? Have you got Melvin Purvis on the case?
You want real information about a museum? Talk to the guards for a while. Since they’re not paid very much, the higher-up people think they’re not worth as much as them, and so invisible, or stupid, and let on a lot of information. It’s incredible the way this museum’s been handled, ever since her death.
It’s obvious the collection and soon to be grounds aren’t the same as she left them, or as her will stipulates. If anyone had any regard for a legal document in this case, her estate would have belonged to Harvard a long time ago, as her will states should happen in the event that anything in her museum be moved or changed. Those left in charge, or those who appointed themselves found every loophole imaginable with equally slimy lawyers to find ways to turn the Chinese Loggia into a gift shop and cafe. Now her carriage house has to be demolished for a bigger gift shop for people to buy shit and a cafe and office space? Really? There’s no room in all of Boston where you can rent office space? How much office space do you really need? Really?
Recently, someone filled out a survey at the ISGM that said, much more eloquently than my memory serves, Anne Hawley should be drawn and quartered. The admins saw it, and said they couldn’t use it because the other side wasn’t filled out. Yeah, Anne has taken a lot of shit in this job, but not nearly enough. While snowstorms shut down the entire city of Boston, Anne was luxuriating in Mexico or Italy, or somewhere she was wasting the museum’s money, and wanted the underpaid staff to still come in. Yup.
And Renzo Piano is the reason for it all. Wouldn’t an architect have enough humility and conscience to not make plans for an addition to a beloved historical (a palace better than he could ever imagine designing) building to be knocked down?
They plan on knocking holes in the walls of the museum. How is this staying true to Isabella’s will? Why is it so important that her will is honored anyway? Because she’s one of the reasons Boston is the gem that it is. If not for her, Boston would have one less (rare) glimpse of unbridled wildness. She designed and oversaw the building of that palace, from the swamp it was, through the placement of every chair, fireplace, and leather panel there is. She curated an amazing collection. She was one badass lady. And it’s her fucking building, so leave it alone. Leave Isabella alone!
The comments on these stories are really smart, and apt. Go see the carriage house while you still can! Go see the museum before they dismantle it any more! (Go to the library and get a pass so you only have to pay $2 instead of $12 or whatever it is now, and please don’t complain about it). I wish there was more or anything we could do.
“Hawley acknowledged in an interview that at a staff meeting, after debate about the new extension, she told staff members that if they couldn’t support the proposal, they might want to consider leaving the museum.” From Isabella Stewart Gardner and Eddie Cole, May 17, 2009. So basically people are being bullied into going along with her in order to keep their comfy jobs.
I wonder, do the layoffs at the museum have anything to do with the $100 million dollar expansion? Even if the money is coming from separate sources, isn’t it more important that people have jobs, instead of a new building that will soon be understaffed?
Is it true, IS the ISGM trying to catch up to the ICA? On the Boston Globe’s website, as a comment on Dispute erupts…this comment was left: “Jill Medvedow the ICA’s director worked at the Gardner but quickly understood that she could never become director there. She fled – taking with her, wealthy patron Barbara Lee (the former wife of equity king and art collector Thomas H Lee) and who would later give $5m (plus much, much more) to the ICA.”
I’m really sick over this, and when the wrecking ball finally hits, I’ll be crying madly.
Here’s an article that brings up some good points about how any great change to the museum will be regrettable, like the Chinese Room that was dismantled, sold off and floored over:
Oh, I just can’t take it anymore.