11 Boston Museums to Add to Your Itinerary
Enjoy these 11 fabulous Boston museums on your next trip!
Boston, Massachusetts may be a small city, but it's one rich in history and culture, steeped in both New England tradition and the intellectual and cultural vigor wrought from its many universities. This city has been a hub of American culture since the Revolutionary War, and its evolution has yielded a great deal of material culture and fostered the creativity of many artists and great thinkers over the years. For some of the best of what Boston has to offer you, check out this variety of exciting and stimulating museums—all of them fun for the whole family!
Museum of Fine Arts
One of Boston’s finest museums, and indeed, one of the finest art museums in the Northeast, a discussion of museums to visit in Boston has to start with the Museum of Fine Arts. A world-class art museum located in Boston proper, the MFA has permanent exhibitions from numerous locations and time periods, containing more than 450,000 works of art in total. Check out the range of exhibitions in the performance art collection—the MFA is a pioneer among art museums in integrating performance art to its exhibitions. The John Singer Sargent Archive is also particularly comprehensive and is continually expanding. Visit the MFA for a truly comprehensive look at fine art!
The MFA is located on 465 Huntington Avenue. Open Saturday through Tuesday 10am to 4:45pm and Wednesday through Friday 10am to 9:45pm.
Info at http://www.mfa.org/
For those traveling with children, the Boston Children’s Museum absolutely cannot be missed. Engaging and interactive, it makes a great place for genuine educational fun. Children can examine cultural artifacts from all over the world, all with their own unique stories. The museum also offers a number of educational programs for kids, from performing arts programs—the museum partners with a number of organizations and universities—to science or studio art. Children will love the chance to learn and express themselves in such an engaging and welcoming environment.
The Children’s Museum is located on 308 Congress Street. It’s open Saturday - Thursday 10 am - 5 pm and Fridays 10am - 9pm
A part of Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the MIT Museum is a treat for adults and kids alike. Its collections and exhibits showcase the work done at the institute by past and current students that reflect both the history and the future of the most cutting-edge science. The holography collection showcases a particularly arresting melding of science and art, depicting the evolution of the scientific medium and its potential applications with the largest collection of holograms in the world. Explore your scientific curiosity and wonder with a visit to the MIT Museum!
The MIT Museum is on 265 Massachusetts Avenue, Building N51, in Cambridge. It’s open daily from 10 am to 5pm. Info at: http://web.mit.edu/museum/
Museum of African-American History
For an important and often-overlooked part of Boston’s history, visit the Museum of African-American History. Beginning in 1963, the museum is known nationally as an important historic site dedicated to chronicling African-American history from the colonial period through the 19th century. Per their website: “The mission of the Museum of African American History is to preserve and interpret the contributions of people of African descent and those who have found common cause with them in the struggle for liberty and justice for all Americans.” There are also historic walking tours available for those looking to explore.
Boston’s Museum of African-American History is located on 46 Joy Street. It’s open Monday through Saturday 10am to 4pm. http://www.maah.org/
Harvard Art Museums
Harvard’s art museums—the Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger, and the Arthur M. Sackler—are a part of Harvard University and make for a fine group of art museums. All integrated into a single institution in 1983, the Harvard art museums make use of Harvard’s considerable resources for a dense and comprehensive fine arts collection. The striking architecture of the building makes for a beautiful backdrop for the works of art and is nearly as lovely as the works themselves. And if you worry you missed something, the website has extensive digital tours!
The Harvard Art Museums are located on 32 Quincy Street in Cambridge. The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Info at http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/
Museum of Science
For kids interested in science—or who don’t know they’re interested in science just yet—the Museum of Science is a great place to explore for parents and their kids alike. Home to interactive exhibits on the natural world, including an outdoor rock garden, an interior conservatory with a butterfly exhibit, and virtual tours of the birds of Acadia National Park, this museum is a great place to spend the day. It also includes IMAX and planetarium shows—thrilling, but not recommended for those with light sensitivity!
The Museum of Science is located at 1 Science Park.
Summer hours (July - September) are Saturday through Thursday 9am to 7pm, and Friday 9am to 9pm.
Regular hours are Saturday through Thursday 9am to 5pm and Friday 9am to 9pm.
Be sure to check the website for the availability of various venues and special features!
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Created in 1998, the Harvard Museum of Natural History displays specimens from Harvard’s three research museums—the Harvard University Herbaria, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and the Harvard Mineralogical Museum. The museum offers exclusive looks at mounted animals from all over the world, including rare large animals such as rhinoceroses, jaguars, peacocks, and sloths. Kids will love the fascinating evolution exhibition, a scientific exploration with exciting visuals. Check out the stunning glass flowers exhibit, highly accurate models made from blown glass.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History is located at 26 Oxford Street in Cambridge. It’s open daily 9am to 5pm. Info at http://hmnh.harvard.edu/
Established as a historic site in 2009 and opened as a museum in 2011, the Waterworks Museum, a historic building at a former Metropolitan Waterworks site, is a quaint and charming place to visit for those who enjoy a historic site with distinct New England charm. The old, industrial machines and chimneys dating from the 19th century are delightfully picturesque and go well with the charming exterior, and walking tours of the lovely Chestnut Hill Reservoir are available for those looking for an outdoor excursion.
The Waterworks Museum is located at 2450 Beacon Street.
Summer hours (April 1 - November 30) are Wednesday 11am to 9pm and Thursday through Sunday 11am - 4pm. Winter hours (Dec 1 - March 31) are Wednesday through Sunday 11am - 4pm. Info at http://waterworksmuseum.org/
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Founded in 1866, the Peabody at Harvard University is one of the oldest and finest anthropological museums in the world. The Peabody houses more than a million individual objects, making for a comprehensive and excitingly immediate look at civilizations the world over throughout history. The Oceanic collection, including the islands of Australia, the South Pacific, and the Philippines, is particularly comprehensive, mostly consisting of 18th century items. From everyday historical objects to stunning works of art, the Peabody museum is worth a close look.
The Peabody is adjacent to the Harvard Museum of Natural History on 11 Divinity Avenue in Cambridge and a ticket purchased to one museum grants admission to both. It’s open daily 9am to 5pm.
JFK Library and Museum
For those visitors interested in presidential history, the JFK Library and Museum is a must-see. One of the most famed and celebrated American presidents of all time, John F. Kennedy was closely connected with the Boston and greater New England communities, and that relationship is reflected in the museum’s works and artifacts on display. The Museum Artifacts collection includes various items connected to the president, including works of art to celebrate Kennedy and some of Jacqueline Kennedy’s most memorable and eye-popping outfits from her time as First Lady. At once sentimental and educational, this museum is ideal for those interested in studying and celebrating this former president.
The JFK Library and Museum is located at 220 Morrissey Boulevard. It’s open daily 9am to 5pm. http://www.jfklibrary.org/
Paul Revere House
Of course, all guides to Boston museums must include a site for Revolutionary War history, one of Boston’s most significant historical events. The Paul Revere House, owned by Paul Revere himself between 1770 and 1800, was restored beginning in 1902 and opened to the public in 1908, making it one of United States’ first historic house museums. The beautiful interior has contained a great deal of its original infrastructure, with further information about this historic Bostonian on display. There are also special events available—watch Paul Revere reenactments, historical craft-making, and concerts with colonial-style instruments!
The Paul Revere House is located at 19 North Square. The museum is open daily.
Summer hours (April 15 - October 31) are 9:30am to 5:15pm.
Winter hours (November 1 - April 14) are 9:30am to 4:15pm.
Info at https://www.paulreverehouse.org/
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