The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has been a bastion of art and culture since it was founded in 1903. The building, inspired by and designed after a 15th-century Venetian palace, contains three floors of galleries surrounding a garden courtyard that remains verdant with plant life from the dawn of spring through the darkest, most subatomic depths of winter. Gardner, who founded the museum, spent her life curating and encouraging the art collection, which contains more than 2,500 objects, including paintings, sculpture, textiles, illuminated manuscripts, and rare books lifted everywhere from ancient Rome to 19th-century France. While visiting this citadel of scintillating visions, witness landscapes by Whistler, Renaissance-era Flemish tapestries, and religious wood sculptures from 16th-century Germany. Exhibitions provide specific, detailed glimpses into varied subject matter; an exhibit on terracotta sculpture of the Italian Renaissance runs until May 23.