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The Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall

Photo: NIC LEHOUX

The dreamy palazzo-style building Isabella Stewart Gardner once called home stood solo for more than a century. Then, in January, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (280 The Fenway, Boston, 617.566.1401) unveiled a shiny new sibling, the brainchild of acclaimed Italian architect Renzo Piano. Eleven years in the making, the Gardner’s new wing offers a modern, airy, sun-soaked counterpoint to the adjoining original (which remains fundamentally unchanged, per its founder’s strict stipulations). The project more than doubled the museum’s size, adding a contemporary special-exhibition gallery, conservation and education spaces, a cozy living-room-style visitors’ area, a greenhouse, twin artist-in-residence apartments, and more. Its crown jewel? We’d have to say that’s Calderwood Hall, a 6,000-square-foot venue for the Gardner’s expanded concert programming that features to-die-for acoustics from Japanese sound-smith Yasuhisa Toyota. The ceiling of the striking cube-like space soars 42 feet high, and its three balconies offer unique seating arrangements: each contains just one row of seats, so hundreds of concert-goers can enjoy a front-row view. Sounds like music to our ears.

_ Stuff Boston