BOSTON (WHDH) - The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum closed to visitors Thursday night due to a planned climate protest.

More than a thousand people were expected for a free admission night, but officials said threats of a protest were a high risk. 

“To have to shut the doors was really a hard decision, but on the other hand we don’t want to ever risk their safety, the safety of our staff, or the safety, of course, of the artwork,” said Donna Hardwick with the museum.

They abruptly closed four hours early, canceling their popular Free First Thursdays admission program.

“We have to just evaluate what the information is as we get it,” Hardwick said.

The climate activists were planning to put their artwork in frames in the Dutch Room of the museum. The frames, left empty since 1990, previously held famous Vermeer, Rembrandt and other paintings stolen in the infamous unsolved art heist.

“It’s an interesting thought and an interesting piece of theater, but I think it’s just too threatening to the museum,”  museumgoer Paul Rosenberg said.

This is the second time the museum closed due to threats. 

“There was also the 33rd anniversary of the heist on March 18 where we also had to close our doors,” Hardwick said. “That day it was a Saturday and the museum was shut down for the whole day.”

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