THIS IS A ROBBERY: the world’s biggest art heist. Read All About It!

“She is not a woman, she is a locomotive — with a Pullman car attached.” — Henry James on Isabella Stewart Gardner

Many of you have no doubt already binge watched the new Netflix documentary This Is A Robbery: the world’s biggest art heist, which focuses on the 1990 theft of art from the Gardner Museum in Boston. Or you might have heard Jim Braude interview the filmmakers on WGBH. This got me to thinking of all the books that have already been written on the theft, on the museum, and on the life of Isabella Stewart Gardner. Thus, here is a reading list of all the titles in the library connected to the Gardner Museum in one way or another. I should mention that I have been devoted to the Gardner Museum ever since I first stepped through the doors when I was a high school student, long, long ago. When I was getting my library degree at Simmons College, I would often stop by the Gardner before heading to a class. There is really nothing that gives me more pleasure than seeing the annual hanging nasturtiums display which continues an annual tradition started by Isabella Stewart Gardner. 

If you would like to dive into the world of Isabella Stewart Gardner, her life, her museum, and the biggest art heist in Boston’s history, here is a collection of titles that covers it all. We’ve got a display up right now of all these titles, so stop by and take a look! (We even have a book club kit of The Art Forger, so your entire book club can read together!) And did I mention, we also have Museum Passes to the Gardner! (Be sure to call the library regarding the new way to redeem our museum passes if you are interested.)

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: daring by design 
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: a guide 
Eye of the Beholder: masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The Memory Palace of Isabella Stewart Gardner by Patricia Vigderman
Boston’s Apollo by Thomas McKeller and John Singer Sargent
Anders Zorn: a European artist seduces America edited by Oliver Tostmann (The first place I ever saw the art of Anders Zorn was at the Gardner, and I fell in love!)
Master Thieves: the Boston gangsters who pulled off the world’s greatest art heist by Stephen Kurkjian (Also available as an e-book via the Libby app.)
Stealing Rembrandts: the untold stories of notorious art heists by Anthony M. Amore and Tom Mashberg
The Gardner Heist: the true story of the world’s largest unsolved art theft by Ulrich Boser
Mrs. Jack: a biography of Isabella Stewart Gardner by Louise Hall Tharp
Sargent’s Women: four lives behind the canvas by Donna M. Lucey. Also available on CD.
The Art of Scandal: the life and times of Isabella Stewart Gardner by Douglass Shand-Tucci
Gondola Days: Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Palazzo Barbaro Circle by Elizabeth Anne McCauley, Alan Chong, Rosella Mamoli Zorzi, and Richard LIngner
Journeys East: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Asia by Alan Chong and Noriko Murai

And a couple of novels involving the Gardner Museum Heist:

The Therapist by William Nolan
The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro (Also available on CD, and via the Libby app.)
The Docent by Tom Kenny


Browse Our Collections

We hear that you all miss being able to browse our shelves! To help everyone to scan through the last year’s acquisitions, click on our links below.  These links will be updated and refreshed as we learn more about what you would like to browse and through the seasons, and the links are dynamic and will show new titles as they are added to our collections.

Each link will take you to the CLAMS catalog and list the selections that are new to our shelves within the last year (2020). We’ve done the search for you, so each link will bring you to a selection of titles similar to browsing our new sections in our buildings.

Browse Adult Collections

Click on a link below to open the catalog and browse these collections.


Movies, TV and Music

Browse Children’s Collections

Click on a link below to open the catalog and browse these collections.


Browse Teen Collections

Click on a link below to open the catalog and browse these collections.

Hoopla Graphic Novel Review: ‘DC: The New Frontier’ by Darwyn Cooke

A blog entry from Josh, who is part of our circulation department.

Ever since Darwyn Cooke burst onto the scene in the early 1990s as a storyboard artist on ‘Batman: The Animated Series,’ he’s been been lauded for the unique blend of elegance and dynamo that he achieved in his artwork. What folks rarely seemed to mention, though, was how good of a writer he also was. It took Cooke making the seemingly backward career move from TV to comics (think: scion to serf) to finally right that wrong.

Essentially a re-telling of the Justice League’s formation, ‘DC: The New Frontier’ also covers 1950s race politics, the Red Scare and a dinosaur-populated monster island, blending it all into one epic, awe-inspiring superstory. Where most comics today tend to try to deconstruct the medium, Cooke seems more interested in re-constructing many of the ‘silver age’ elements that had been discarded over the years — space age science, pulp heroics, sweeping romance and an overall sense of wonder. Costume clad heroes both familiar and obscure pop up throughout. Some only appear briefly, in 10-20 page solo stories. Others weave in and out of the main mystery in an almost Altman-esque manner, finally converging en masse at the end of the book for a ‘We Are The World’-of-superfriends battle to save the planet. A few of the standout story lines are the Martian Manhunter’s arrival on Earth and his awkward assimilation of its culture, Hal Jordan’s transformation into the Green Lantern, and the Challengers of the Unknown’s beginning and (spoiler alert!) end.

Oh, and then there’s the art.

Ignore the word bubbles, and the book feels like a collection of long-lost pre-production art to some never-made superhero extravaganza from the glory days of the Hollywood studio system. Cooke’s biggest artistic influence is clearly Bruce Timm (the mastermind behind the aforementioned ‘Batman’ cartoon), but also evident in his work are the stylistic touches of Jack Kirby, Gil Kane and Carmine Infantino. In ‘DC: The New Frontier’, Cooke uses bits of all these classic cartoonists’ styles, blended with a bit of streamline moderne design and googie architecture, to perfectly capture the ‘anything is possible’ essence of the post-WWII United States. It’s gorgeous.

The ‘Deluxe Edition’ eBook format that DC has re-released the series in only adds to one’s appreciation of the art. Instead of the awkward-looking printing that sometimes ruins the enlargement of comic book pages, the simple grace of Cooke’s lines is actually enhanced by the digital blow up.

CLAMS cardholders can read DC: The New Frontier free on Hoopla!

The Hidden Gem that is Google Arts and Culture

(Where Meg K. takes you on virtual tour of one of her favorite sites!)

Stuck at home and looking for something to do?  Why not get lost in the endless content on the Google Arts and Culture page?   

No matter what you’re interested in, there is a rabbit hole for you to be sucked into.  Maybe you want to tour the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, or the Louvre in Paris.  You can even zoom into artworks and see the texture of each brush stroke if you want. Maybe you’re more interested in learning about who invented the emoji or the toilet?  Or maybe the history of space exploration is more your cup of tea? In any of these cases, and about a million others, Google’s Arts and Culture project has you covered.    

 I happen to like street art, so I got lost in this section highlighting street art around the world: Street Art.  If you want to jump right to some highlights, here are 9 amazing murals in New York City:  NYC Street Art.

The  Street View  section allows you to explore famous sites and landmarks, so we can all go for a virtual walk without getting off the couch.  Where would you like to start? Amsterdam? Mumbai?  You can also take guided tours in Street View, both of places and of movements.  For example, here’s a guided tour through the history of surfing from the Australian National Surfing Museum: Surf’s Up

There really is an overwhelming amount of content there, all organized and curated incredibly well.  You can search for people, historical events, places, cultural and artistic movements, or just by a color you’re interested in.  Go ahead, see what comes up! I’m confident if you give it a 30 second look, you’ll find yourself, 3 hours later, creating your own choreography with a little help from a massive archive of body movements and some machine learning.  (You can find that here if you don’t want to wait: Strike a Pose

Here it is one more time – the last link you’ll need to click today: Google Arts and Culture!