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Looking for a Study Break? This Hidden Oasis Is Right Next Door!

Mary is here to take you around the Fenway Area that surrounds the Simmons College campus. Her adventures in the city of Boston show that as a Simmons Student, greatness is your backyard!

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I'm about to share with you all a hidden treasure that I "discovered" back in the middle of January. I say, "discover" because it was not really hidden to begin with. In fact, it's found right next door to our academic campus. Yes, I am going to write about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum--once a mystery to me, with its regally gated parameters and white marble lions guarding its doors, but now a favorite haunt of mine anytime I am seeking a little peace and quiet in the middle of the city.

The story of my adventure goes as such:

The weather in Boston had been pretty brutal, with temperatures dropping into the single digits and nasty wind-chills pushing them only further below zero.

 I decided it time for a chance of scenery.


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The front entrance of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Any student at Simmons has at least heard once of the famous "indoor gardens" housed inside the historic walls of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which sits adjacent to the Palace Road Building on the academic campus. The place has long been hailed as a colloquial sanctuary of solitude and beauty--and a really nice place to get a paper done (or so my doctor, a former Emmanuel student, tells me).

So I packed my bag one day, full of my books and journals, prepped to spend some quality alone time away from the urban bustle, and set off on a quest for a novel study space.

However, despite how raised my expectations were, nothing could have prepared me for the amazing reality I was about to witness. I traversed long stretches of cold concrete sidewalk and battled blustery gusts of wind in search of a small oasis. What I found was nothing short of full-blown paradise.

Intricately carved Venetian arched windows overlooked a myriad of lush tropical greenery. Roman statues and sculpture harked back to a time of ancient luxury. The afternoon sunlight shone through a glass roof down into the center courtyard, a space that has been elegantly designed with a colorful mosaic tile floor. In the surrounding rooms hung walls upon walls of grandiose European art from every era--courtesy of Mrs. Gardner's expansive personal collection.

I was blown away. What an archival gem to be found in the metropolitan landscape of Boston! I was more than pleased to take a seat on a nearby stone bench and begin writing. I ended up not getting much homework done though with all the enthusiastic visitors quietly circulating around me on a Sunday afternoon, soaking up as much of the idyllic atmosphere as I was. Still, it was nice just to have a moment to myself and listen to the sound of the water flowing from the center fountain.

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A long glass corridor leads toward the museum's Historic Building, which houses Mrs. Gardner's vast collection of art and décor.

So while it may no longer be nine degrees below, I thoroughly encourage everyone to take the chance and explore the inside of the museum. It doesn't require the bitter cold to be able to appreciate how gorgeous the indoor courtyard is, and the staff is continuously rotating flora from the institute's greenhouse to showcase specialty flowers and other rare plants on a seasonal basis. (I hear in the spring, they hang garlands from the balconies of the Venetian windows--fancy!).

Just don't snap any pics though! Visitors are prohibited from taking photos or video in order to preserve the integrity of the work, as well as the visitor's initial experience. That just means you'll just have to go and see it for yourself!

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was founded by the late Mrs. Gardner, a wealthy socialite from New York and a connoisseur of art, interior design and architecture, who built the museum with the specific purpose of exhibiting her magnificent collection of works from different time periods. Each piece in the museum was hand-picked by Mrs. Gardner and placed under her direction--furniture included--making the entirety of the museum's Historic Building, originally modeled after a Venetian palace, a piece of work in itself. Simmons students gain free admission into the museum upon presentation of their Fenway Card (Simmons ID).

Fun Fact: 13 works of art were stolen from the museum in a notorious art heist almost 24 years ago! An award for information regarding the burglary is still out for 5 million dollars!

Disclaimer: No, I was not paid or compensated in any fashion to write positively about the museum. I just like pretty flowers and art, (as should everyone else) ;)

Until next time,


By Mary Ying on April 15, 2014 10:05 AM
Category: Exploring Boston