Contemporary Creativity

Today, we strive to continue Isabella’s legacy of cultivating talent and supporting artists.

While Isabella Stewart Gardner is perhaps best known as a collector of old Masters, she was also vitally interested in the artists of her time.  Isabella enjoyed spending time with and learning from musicians, writers, painters, and scholars. Works by her contemporaries include paintings and drawings by Whistler, Bunker, and Sargent. Her interest extended to supporting the arts and artists, which she did through opening her Museum as a space for John Singer Sargent to paint in, by donating instruments to New England Conservatory students, and by being a patron to individual performers and artists throughout her life.

Today, we strive to continue Isabella’s legacy of cultivating talent and supporting artists. The Museum’s New Wing, with its openness and transparency, is a signal of the institution’s commitment to artistic practices of the present and to welcoming new audiences. The New Wing’s modern exhibition space and performance hall host a steady stream of contemporary artworks, music, dance, and more. The acclaimed Artist-in-Residence Program invites artists to live and work at the Museum, taking advantage of everything the Gardner has to offer, and frequently creating new works in response.


The Gardner's Artist-in-Residence program invites artists to live and work at the Museum. Learn more about the program and the artists.


The Choreographer-in-Residence program was launched in 2018 as part of a bold new initiative to animate the galleries with contemporary performances and integrate dance into exhibitions and programs.

Multidisciplinary performances flow throughout the Museum’s New Wing and animate the historic galleries. Third Thursdays feature live music as well as artist and spotlight talks in the galleries. Our RISE music series features pop, rock, and hip-hop. Evening and pop-up performances span everything from magic performances to ballet, to genre-defying music. 

The Gardner is also committed to public art. Stop by to see a site-specific artwork on the Museum’s façade that changes every six months.