Via The New York Times, 8 September 2023

On Thursday evening, the doors abruptly closed at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Officials had learned that climate protesters were planning a visit during the hours when the cultural institution offers free admission.

The activist group Extinction Rebellion had posted on social media earlier in the day, saying this would be its second attempt at visiting the museum. “This is a peaceful field trip without the risk of arrest,” the invitation said.

In March, demonstrators had tried to stage a “guerrilla art installation” that would have involved inserting their own images into empty picture frames at the museum, an action intended to draw attention to the loss of biodiversity. But the event also would have fallen on the same day as the infamous art heist at the Gardner 33 years earlier, and executives were nervous about security risks and decided to close the museum. Protesters instead carried flags and red banners, staging a “die-in” near the museum’s entrance.

On Thursday, the museum’s director, Peggy Fogelman, wrote a public note to explain the second sudden closure in six months. “These frames are not only important and fragile historic objects in their own right, but they memorialize the tragic 1990 theft that deprived our public of the opportunity to enjoy unique masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer and others,” she wrote. “It is heartbreaking to associate the painful reminder of this loss with any scenario that would jeopardize the frames themselves or the experience of our staff and visitors.”

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