Warm and inviting, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum feels more like a home than a museum. But don’t be fooled — no one ever lived here, it was just designed to look that way, back in 1903. The space centers around a soaring courtyard, with a replicated Venetian facade taking center stage, which a good indication of the type of art here. Lots of different pieces, mostly from Europe, ranging from antiquities to the early 1900’s. The collection is quite varied, and very much personal to the woman who gathered it all, giving you an atypical museum experience. Don’t be afraid to lift the velvet coverings on those display cases, or to flip through the displays of various sketches and letters.
EDIT: So, I stand corrected! A reader wrote to let me know that while currently no one lives here, Mrs. Jack did live on the top floor at one point, using the galleries as salons and tea rooms to entertain. Swanky, no? And up until recently, the museum director lived in the space, which has now been turned into offices.