Inner Sanctum

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Today’s photo was taken at the interior sanctum, or atrium, of the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum in Boston, MA. If you ever are in Boston, it’s well worth taking the time to visit. According to Wikipedia: “Gardner collected and carefully displayed a collection of more than 2,500 objects—paintings, sculpture, furniture, textiles, architectural elements, drawings, silver, ceramics, illuminated manuscripts, rare books, photographs and letters—from ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, Renaissance Italy, Asia, the Islamic world, and 19th-century France and America. Among the artists represented in the galleries are Titian, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Manet, Degas, Whistler and Sargent. The first Matisee to enter an American collection is housed in the Yellow Room.”

There was an infamous robbery that took place one night in 1990. From the Wikipedia site: “In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, a pair of thieves disguised as Boston police officers gained entry to the museum and stole thirteen works of art. The total worth of the stolen pieces has been estimated at $500 million, making the robbery the greatest single property theft in world history. Among the stolen works was The Concert, one of only 34 known works by Vermeer and thought to be the most valuable unrecovered painting at over $200 million. Also missing is The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Rembrandt’s only known seascape.

“Despite efforts by the FBI, the works have not yet been recovered. The case remains unsolved, with the museum offering a reward of $5 million for information leading to recovery of the art. Empty frames hang in the Dutch Room gallery as placeholders for the missing works, in hopeful expectation of their return. The selection of stolen works puzzled experts, as more valuable artworks were present in the museum. According to the FBI, the stolen artwork was moved through the region and offered for sale in Philadelphia during the early 2000s. They believe the thieves were members of a criminal organization based in the mid-Atlantic and New England.

“In May 2017, the museum’s board of trustees announced the doubling of the reward to $10 million for the return of the 13 masterworks stolen in 1990. The reward is only being offered until December 31, 2017 and the museum offered a guarantee of “complete confidentiality.”

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1984, at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California, Dr. Leonard L. Bailey performed the first baboon-to-human heart transplant, replacing a 14-day-old infant girl’s defective heart with the healthy, walnut-sized heart of a young baboon.

The infant, known as “Baby Fae,” was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, a deformity that is almost fatal and is found in newborns in which parts or all of the left side of the heart is missing. A few days after Baby Fae’s birth, Loma Linda heart surgeon Dr. Bailey convinced Baby Fae’s mother to allow him to try the experimental baboon-heart transplant. Three other humans had received animal-heart transplants, the last in 1977, but none survived longer than 3 1/2 days. Bailey argued that an infant with an underdeveloped immune system would be less likely to reject alien tissue than an adult.

Baby Fae survived the operation, and her subsequent struggle for life received international attention. After living longer than any other human recipient of an animal heart, Baby Fae’s body made a concerted effort to reject the alien transplant. Doctors were forced to increase dosages of an immuno-suppressive drug, leading to kidney failure. Ultimately, doctors were defeated by the swift onset of heart failure, and on November 15 Baby Fae died after holding on for 20 days.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: two thousand years ago, over a million lions roamed throughout regions that covered Europe, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, and India. In the 1940s, lions numbered 450,000. Today, there are as few as 32,000 on Earth.

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