Courtyard - photo from

Today we visited the Isabella Gardener Museum in Boston.  It is a unique museum filled with pieces Isabella Gardener collected and displayed in a house she had built for her collections.  The collections are housed in several rooms and salons that are arranged around a three-story open courtyard.  Gardener installed the pieces for their enjoyment rather than by provenance, artist, or period.  It is quite an eclectic museum.

Box - photo from

A collection of antique wooden and leather boxes displayed on a carved Spanish table made me realize that this wasn’t really a museum – it was a house of surprises.  One box would have been interesting enough but the assortment was entrancing.

A friend told me of a family home that she visited as a child called ‘the house of surprises’ which which was filled with lots of interesting things.  And, I have another friend whose home is filled with intriguing collections.  I love spending time there because there is so much to look at and to be inspired by.  I always leave her house wishing I had more ‘stuff’.

My dream collection of nutcrackers - photo by me

Perhaps it is my preoccupation with multiples, but I got to thinking.  If I had unlimited space like Isabella Gardener and I weren’t such a minimialist, what sort of collections would I assemble?  Well, everything that I love and gives me pleasure!  Teapots (of course), leather-bound books, nutcrackers, glass paperweights, boxes, carousel horses, women’s hats, glass jars, balls of yarn, handmade journals, blown glass globes, teabowls and mugs, bottles of wine, minerals, gingerbread houses, blankets, antique perfume bottles, music boxes, sugar and creamer sets, snowglobes, tote bags, apothecary cabinets, scarves, tea canisters, gloves, river rocks, hat pins, sets of dinnerware, and glass pumpkins.

Alas, I don’t have unlimited space or funds; and I am too pragmatic (which is why I only purchase Christmas ornaments as souvenirs – I can enjoy them and the memories they evoke while they serve a purpose and have a place).  But it is fun to think about.