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Post by Melissa Buron, Curatorial Assistant, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Posted By Sally S. Block, Wednesday, June 6, 2012

One of the many highlights of my two and a half days at the 2012 AAMC Annual Meeting was a tour of the new Renzo Piano extension to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  When I checked in for the tour, I was handed a sticker that simply read "Living Room.”  It was not yet clear to me how a tour of the museum would start in a living room, but I was excited to find out.  I had no idea whose living room were we going to visit, and before I could stop myself, I had a vision of Mrs. Gardner herself floating down the hallway to welcome us into her home/museum.  As it turned out, this idea wasn’t so far from the truth.


The Living Room is an innovative space near the ground level entrance of the Gardner’s new building.  This light-filled orientation room is dappled with vibrant red and orange couches and chairs as well as a floor to ceiling reference library.  The Living Room was inspired by Artist-in-Residence Lee Mingwei’s project of the same name, which he created for the Gardner in 2000.  It functions as a place for museum visitors to gather, linger and learn at their own pace.  As Pieranna Cavalchini, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Gardner, explained to the group, the room was conceived of as a space for "talking, listening and looking outward.”   I couldn’t help but think how perfectly those themes resonate with the spirit of AAMC’s annual meetings.   For me, this year’s conference provided ample opportunities to meet new colleagues and to reconnect with a few familiar faces from last year’s conference.  I also welcomed the opportunity to (finally!) meet colleagues with whom I have only ever shared faceless/voiceless email exchanges.  I know I’m not alone in valuing and looking forward to this annual opportunity to convene and experience collegial exchanges of ideas and suggestions for best practices.  Congratulations to the Gardner museum’s team for including such an important environment in their new building.  I look forward to revisiting the Gardner’s Living Room and I would encourage anyone planning a trip to Boston to spend time in this magical museum and it’s creative new spaces! 

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