Mrs. Gardner compiled 27 scrapbooks during her extensive world travels which included, in part, journeys to Europe, Turkey, Japan and Cuba and each experience was carefully recorded. In some scrapbooks, her observations are made in the style of an anthropologist taking field notes, as she sketched and defined hieroglyphics and illustrated monuments or jotted down excerpts from local myths. In others she included photographs purchased at local photographer’s shops, which catered to the tourist industry. Mrs. Gardner dedicated Sundays to her scrap booking, pasting photographs, pressed flowers and other ephemera into her books. The scrapbooks illustrate the link between her early travels and the later construction of her museum.
Here you see a painting on mica (talc), purchased by Mrs. Gardner during her journey through India in 1884, pasted above a photograph showing the Great Pagoda on the island of Srirangam (Shriranagam) near Trichy (Trichonopoli). (Click the image to enlarge.)
When you visit the museum next Thursday night, be sure stop in the Macknight Room, where you’ll see two glass bottles, engraved with ferns, containing sand from Egypt, collected by Mrs. Gardner in 1875. Head to the Short Gallery, and you’ll find a small statue of Vishnu, given to Mrs. Gardner during her visit to Angkor Thom, Cambodia in 1883.
Kristin Parker is the chief authority on Isabella’s travel scrapbooks, among other things, as the Gardner Museum’s archivist. Read her last blog post, about Isabella’s take on table manners, here.