The Gardiner’s Moneymaker

GardinerIn the wake of researching a new exhibit, I couldn’t help but evaluate the Gardiner Museum’s latest renovations on my latest visit to the Third Thursday event.

Conclusion: “This is a money maker”.

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I’ll be able to say “I knew it when”. The small tiny museum always carried itself with the importance of “old money”, but looked like the cute, sweet, little, under appreciated treasure it was. In the last few years, the Gardiner reinvented itself as a posh hotspot with stimulating community spaces, increasing its events and activities, and creating more space for artifacts and staff. This new vision has a price, however, and it will be a long time before purists will forgive the destruction of Gardiner’s (DESIGNED BY?) carriage house. (Gardiner left strict instructions that everything in the museum must remain as she left it, but she also left some legal loopholes.)

Purist or not, what’s done is done and the result is… pleasing. Inside the building it’s the old Gardiner with treasures waiting to be discovered around every corner. In the new addition it’s a destination. You can dine, shop, read a book, see theater, or do an art project.

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I was hardly able to enjoy the evening; I was too busy evaluating the impact of the new changes on my visitor experience. Museums are seeking relevance. Did the Gardiner hit the mark? I’d be very interested in studying the data that made this particular design seem like the right thing to do.

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