The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Block Party Is Back Again

The second annual block party comes to the Gardner Museum on August 9.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Photo by Lloyd Mallison

The captivating reach of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum will once again expand to the streets for the museum’s second annual Neighborhood Night Block Party this Thursday. Stilt dancers, metalsmiths, musicians, food trucks, and much more will come together to celebrate this year’s theme: Cosmic Cycles. The best part? The event is free and open to the public.

“This is an extra special welcome to the community to come play with us and enjoy this really interesting mix that happens here at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum,” says Rhea Vedro, director of community engagement at the Gardner Museum.

The event will bring together local and global artists to showcase new work, as well as the classic pieces that the museum has to offer. Visitors are invited to explore the museum, take part in workshops and demonstrations, and enjoy innovative showcases like the one presented by former artist-in-residence Laura Anderson Barbata, which is called “Intervention: Ocean Blues.”

Brooklyn Jumbies Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Photo by Frank Veronsky

Barbata began her relationship with the museum during her month as artist-in-residence in 2016, which culminated in last year’s block party performance. That piece was inspired by the prints and tapestries in the museum’s Raphael Room. This year, the performance serves as a continuation of Barbata’s work about ocean conservation and bioluminescence, some of which went on display for the U.N. last year.

“The idea here is that the pieces reflect the life that is living deep within the ocean,” Barabata says. “Creatures that have the capacity to reflect light, to create light, are just astounding and there is so little we know about them. And also the metaphor here is that if we can produce light, we should produce light.”

“Ocean Blues” will take place as a three-part performance throughout the evening and feature the Brooklyn Jumbies, a group of stilt walkers, as well as local performers like Spontaneous Celebrations and Tempo International Rhythm Section. Barbata will also take part in the performance, serving as an intermediary between the audience, the performers, and the meticulously crafted light-up sculptural wearables created by the artist specifically for this event.

Brooklyn Jumbies

Photo by Frank Veronsky

“It’s beautiful, it’s really a spectacle,” Vedro says. “It’s like being a part of a living theater piece.”

The family-friendly event will also treat guests to music from electric violinist Josh Knowles, a printing workshop led by local artist Silvia López Chavez, and a stone carving demonstration by David Baird and inspired by the museum’s current special exhibition: “Life, Death, and Revelry.

Free, 5-9 p.m., Thursday, August 9, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way, Boston,