It is a museum I had always heard about but being Boston adjacent in my younger years meant I never got beyond the more completist Museum of Fine Arts (very nearby, just across the street, if you are planning a Boston trip I think you could manage both of these museums in a day easily).
The museum, known for its impressive collection of fine art and interiors, is also infamous for being the victim of one of the worst art thefts in history in 1990. Approximately $500 million worth of paintings, including rare works by Vermeer and Rembrandt, were stolen in what remains an unsolved FBI investigated crime. I can't believe a film hasn't been made about it!
The museum continues to pay reverence to the lost art by keeping the empty frames on display where the art was once displayed on the walls - this alone has become a sort of art buff's curio/scene of the crime attraction. Unfortunately when I visited the gallery where these works would have been displayed was closed for a major refurbishment (they had moved a few of the more notable paintings for display in a different gallery).
The renowned, debatably eccentric personality of its benefactor Isabella Gardner is something the museum makes a point of referencing and paying homage to - among her eccentricities included a passionate love for the Boston Red Sox, she apparently wore a Red Sox headband to a rather fancy gala and caused quite a stir! The museum pays respect to this by offering anyone wearing Red Sox gear a $2 discount - also worth noting is if you are lucky enough to be named Isabella, you get in free!
What most impressed me about this museum along with art was...well, everything about it! Its layout is themed, with a Venetian Room, a Spanish room, a Blue Room etc. Each room really has a personality all its own. The details of the building itself are also pleasingly opulent, from the breathtaking Courtyard Garden to the marble stairs and tiled floors, the ornate tapestries, it manages to feel somehow homely yet luxurious all at once. It's rather special! With my time constraint I could only afford to pause and read a handful of the wealth of information provided behind each and every piece.