The Museum of Fine Arts is Boston’s grand museum, but the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum around the corner, at 280 The Fenway, www.gardnermuseum.org, (617) 278-5156, is Boston’s jewel.
In the late 19th century Mrs. Gardner and her husband traveled the world collecting art. Their home, built in the style of a 15th-century Venetian palace, houses great works from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East along with Mrs. Gardiner’s eccentric personal touches like a moonstone covering a lock of Robert Browning’s hair.
The eccentric Venetian-style palazzo built about a century ago that is crammed with 2,500 of Mrs. Gardner’s acquisitions. Her will warns that if the permanent collection is disturbed, it will be given to Harvard; that partly explains the empty frames of two Rembrandts and a Vermeer taken along with other pieces in a 1990 robbery that is unsolved. Consider buying the $4 audio guide or $16 paperback guide because much of the collection is unlabeled.
Visitors with the name Isabella are admitted free; everyone else pays $10.