Happy Friday! Thanks to a recommendation from my friend Isabel, we lambs went to Third Thursday last night at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in the Fenway area. Each month, the museum hosts a gathering with short talks by curators, a DJ, a cash bar with signature cocktails, and the opportunity to wander the halls of the museum with a glass of wine in hand (we love art and all, but having some vino while pondering a Botticelli does make us feel more sophisticated). Isabella was clearly a boss, and walking around the space she designed gives you a sense of what a fascinating, one-of-a-kind person she was.
As background, Isabella was a formidable patron of the Boston social and arts scene in the early 1900s, and her extensive worldwide travels resulted in a veritable explosion of provocative artwork, which she installed in a manner unique from typical modern museum style. All of her pieces, whether tapestries or portraits or letters from George Washington, are displayed side by side, giving visitors a sense of intimacy with her style.
The Third Thursday series brings together a mishmash of folks – husbands and wives who have come to these events for years and whom the museum staff know and love, young couples in a dimly lit corridor around the main atrium, and boisterous groups of college students enjoying a fancy drink – that seem to be primarily there to enjoy the music, art, and drinks with their companions (we had thought it might be more of a mingling event, but there wasn’t much meeting and greeting happening). When we arrived, we took a lap around the main floor to get the lay of the land, and then stopped at the bar for one of the themed cocktails. This month’s was a spicy basil ginger jalapeno sparkler – just spicy enough, but you could still taste all of the different flavors. One of the bartenders, who designed the light pink cocktail for this month’s event, explained the recipe.
Spicy basil ginger jalapeno sparkler
1 tablespoon basil simple syrup
1 tablespoon jalapeno, ginger simple syrup
Topped off with prosecco
Served in a champagne flute
With a few sips of the sparkler down the hatch, we headed back to the museum’s new wing for the hands-on portion of the evening. This Third Thursday was themed “Word Play” so we created handmade art using different forms of type – whether stickers, stencils, cuttings from old books, or even a quill pen. It was a nice treat to get a little creative, and walk away from the evening with a post-card sized piece of art.
After wandering the rooms in the upstairs of the historic building, the night was winding down and we meandered back to the main entrance. Before heading out to enjoy the rest of our night, however, we stopped at the greenhouse. As we snapped a few pictures, one of the museum employees walked by and told us “this is the best photo opp in this place” – it is a unique feature of the museum, used to serve the atrium, reminding you that it’s a living and breathing place.
The place was like Fort Knox in that photos are not allowed in the historic building , so we don’t have snapshots to showcase the gorgeous architecture, incredibly unique paintings, sculptures, and all manner of ephemera. But we highly recommend you visit and see for yourself.
The short of it:
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Third Thursdays
25 Evans Way, Fenway
- Good for…
- A unique date with a new romance, or a long-time boyfriend
- Flexing your creative muscles (which most likely have been long-dormant)
- Learning a bit more about Boston’s history and the folks who shaped it
- Not the place for…
- Meeting lots of new people (we found that most people were chatting with their companions, as opposed to mingling)
- Museum photo-ops