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On 33rd anniversary of heist, Gardner Museum closes due to planned protest

On 33rd anniversary of heist, Gardner Museum closes due to planned protest
On 33rd anniversary of heist, Gardner Museum closes due to planned protest 02:01

BOSTON - On Saturday, the 33rd anniversary of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist, the museum announced it would be closing for the day.

However, according to the museum, the closure had nothing to do with the anniversary but was related to a protest that museum authorities feared would damage the works of art.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Museum will be closed on Saturday, March 18. Ticketholders will receive additional information via email. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Posted by Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on Saturday, March 18, 2023

"We have been informed that climate activists planned a protest inside our museum that could put our community and artworks at risk. After careful consideration and abundance of caution for the museum's visitors, staff and artworks, we have decided to close," the museum said in a statement.

"Isabella Stewart Gardner envisioned her Museum as a place of sharing art, community and conversation. She was an advocate of all forms of art, as well as the environment, especially horticulture," said Peggy Fogelman, Norma Jean Calderwood director. "While it is our mission to uphold Isabella's values, we do not support this type of tactic that targets art institutions and could possibly put the Museum's collection, staff and visitors at risk." 

It was bad timing for one family that was on vacation from Louisiana and excited to see the museum.

"We came from New Orleans," said Jessica DeFraites. "I mean, took a 30-minute train to get here."

All individuals who purchased advanced tickets will be refunded. We apologize for the inconvenience to our visitors, members and entire Gardner community. The Museum will reopen tomorrow. For more information, please visit 

The museum said anyone with tickets for Saturday could choose another day to visit or be fully reimbursed.

"I've been trying to see this museum for a while now, but we'll have to try next time," said a visitor from Vermont, Nadie Vanzandt.

The closure comes on the 33rd anniversary of the day when thieves disguised as Boston police officers convinced two security guards to let them into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The guards were then tied up in the museum basement, and the thieves got away with 13 pieces of art.

The missing art, which includes works by Rembrandt, Degas, Manet and Vermeer, is estimated to be worth at least $500 million. The empty frames remain at the museum.

"I come every year on March 18th, last eight or nine years, to look at the empty frames," said visitor Michelle Dixon.

The museum is offering a $10 million reward for any information that leads to the return of the stolen works.

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