-By Amy Cavanaugh

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum reopened earlier this winter with a fresh face—the renowned museum closed from November 15 to January 18 to complete an extensive renovation, lighting upgrades, and a brand new wing, which will show three opening exhibits.

The Renzo Piano Wing is a new building that’s set 50 feet behind the museum and fits in perfectly with the surrounding neighborhood. In the new space there are greenhouses and an education studio on the first floor. The second floor has a 300-seat performance hall with three balcony levels, a 2,000-foot special exhibition gallery, apartments for artists and scholars in residence, and administrative offices. There’s also a new museum shop and café that seats 80 people indoors, with a garden patio to use in warm weather. The new building connects to the original house with a glass corridor, and is LEED certified. It uses a geothermal well system, water-efficient landscaping techniques, and local materials, among other environmentally-friendly initiatives.

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Up first in the new wing is Tapestry (RADIO ON): New Work by Victoria Morton, on display through May 28, 2012. Morton is a painter and sculptor, and her work was created specially for the new gallery. She works in abstract realism, creating thought-provoking canvasses with oil paint, and relates them to sculptures on view in the show.

“Morton wants to make an Abstract Art that is connected to every day life,” said Pieranna Cavalchini, Gardner Museum Curator of Contemporary Art, in a statement. “This is her ideal kind of painting. It is emotional. To Morton, cutting up an apple can mean the same thing as putting paint on a canvas. It is an assured and instinctive gesture. Visitors will see connections between Morton’s work and the Gardner collection, particularly when exploring the context of the unique and surprising adjacencies present in Isabella Gardner’s continuous installation.”

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Another show, Points of View: 20 Years of Artists-in-Residence at the Gardner, looks at the history of the Gardner’s Artist-in-Residence program with a survey of works by past participants, as well as works by artists with ties to the museum. Look for works by Elaine Reichek, Dayanita Singh, and John Singer Sargent.

The third show, Portrait features work by Luisa Lambri, the first Artist-in-Residence at the museum in 2008. Lambri relates her photographs of the Gardner to her world travels and her ideas about space and memory.

For more on the new Gardner wing and renovations, visit gardnermuseum.org.

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Hours: Wed-Mon 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs until 9 p.m.
Admission: Adults: $15; Seniors: $12; College Students $5 with current ID; Free for Members, visitors under 18, and all named “Isabella”