Community Engagement at the Gardner

Working with local artists, performers, cultural leaders, and social justice organizations, the Museum works to build mutually beneficial relationships with our community.


When Isabella bequeathed the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to the city of Boston as a public institution, she said that the Museum was to be “for the education and enjoyment of the public forever.” With an initial $1 admission in 1903, visitors were welcomed when the Museum opened, and have since visited the Museum for over a century. 

Community Events

To learn about all of our community-centered programming, click here and see all upcoming Community Days at the Gardner.


The Gardner Museum welcomes all people. We work with community leaders and artists to co-produce and design programs and hands-on activities that celebrate the voices and talents of our neighboring communities. Our goal is to engage new audiences, learn from fresh perspectives, and to connect visitors with the Museum’s rich collection, special exhibitions, and resources through creating meaningful experiences.


Sound. Performance. Multi-media. Local artists stage events and performances that transform the Museum. We strive to create active and engaging Museum experiences for all visitors.  

Performance by singer Alea in the Museum's courtyard during Neighborhood Nights event. Photo by Matt Teuten.
Singer Alea in the Museum's courtyard during the Neighborhood Nights event. Photo by Matt Teuten.

Neighborhood Salon Luminaries: Learning from the Community

The Neighborhood Salon is a new quarterly gathering of Boston’s select cultural leaders, music and arts influencers, and tastemakers whose work and agency impacts and inspires the creative, educational, social, and political landscape of Roxbury, Mission Hill, Fenway and Greater Boston. 

Modeled after Isabella Stewart Gardner’s legacy as a curator and hostess of artist salons around the turn of the century, the primary goal of the Neighborhood Salon is to exchange creative ideas and dialogue with Boston’s most innovative and thoughtful luminaries as a means of informing programming at the Gardner. The Neighborhood Salon is co-facilitated by Shea Rose.

Neighborhood Salon Luminaries

The Neighborhood Salon is a gathering of Boston’s select cultural leaders and tastemakers whose work and agency impacts and inspires the Gardner Museum and its neighbors.

Neighborhood Luminary Black Venus interacting with visitors during February 2017 Third Thursdays event. Photo by Leonardo March.
Neighborhood Salon Luminary Black Venus leads a conversation about personal response to the Special Exhibition Close Up: Piermatteo D'Amelia's The Annunciation during Third Thursdays. Photo by

Polly Thayer Starr Artists

The Gardner Museum seeks to uphold the high value Isabella Stewart Gardner and Polly Thayer Starr placed on artists’ contributions to community. To this end, the Museum collaborates with artists in Boston in the development aesthetic experiences and engaging workshops for Museum visitors. The Polly Thayer Starr Artist Series allows artists to consider their work within the rich cultural context of the Gardner Museum and the unique legacy of the Museum’s founder, Isabella Stewart Gardner, through a structured three-month collaboration period of thought, exploration, and workshop implementation. On select Saturdays, these artists lead workshops for Museum visitors in the Bertucci Education Studio. For upcoming workshops and more information, please visit our online calendar.

Saturday Open Studios

See what's going on in the Museum's Bertucci Education Studio.


The Gardner provides a number of events with our local community members in mind. These include our free summer series Neighborhood Nights, Free Days, our lively and family-friendly School Vacation Week activities, and our weekly Saturday drop-in art activities at Open Studio.

Intervention: Ocean Blues is a dance procession by Artist-in-Residence Laura Anderson Barbata in collaboration with the Brooklyn Jumbies, performed at the Gardner Museum's Neighborhood Nights Block Party. Video by Dillon Buss.

Image at top: Artist and Neighborhood Salon Luminary Elisa Hamilton presents Sound Lab, an interactive, community listening experience in Calderwood Hall as part of the special exhibition Listen Hear: the Art of Sound in March 2017. Photo by