Not sure which museums in Boston are worth checking out? Then you’re certainly in the right place because this guide will tell you all you need to know about the best museums in Boston!
History, ships, art, and technology are just some of the things covered in these awesome Boston museums. Read on for all the info you need about all the best museums in Boston and its surroundings!
The Boston Museum of Science is an absolute must for all science nerds who travel to Boston. It’s situated at the city’s Science Park, on a vast plot of land along the Charles River. It boasts a revolving schedule of some 35 temporary exhibits, as well as planetarium shows, IMAX films, and more than 700 interactive exhibits.
This isn’t just one of the best museums in Boston – it’s also an indoor zoo, with more than 100 different animals. Also, it’s worth noting that, since the exhibits at the Museum of Science change often, there’s lots of value in revisiting this museum every few months.
In addition to educational exhibits on everything from human life to model trains, this Boston museum also hosts live presentations on topics spanning quantum physics to living animals. Every presentation is best-suited for a specific age, and the museum offers entertaining (and educational) presentations for all ages, from preschoolers to adults.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History is one of the university’s four museums that are open to the public, and the most visited museum out of them all. It’s situated in the University Museum Building, right there on the campus of Harvard University.
Although Harvard is situated in Cambridge and not in the City of Boston, it is part of both Greater Boston and the Boston Metropolitan Area, and it’s definitely one of the best museums to visit while you’re exploring Boston!
The museum has several permanent galleries, with exhibits that cover everything from dinosaurs to meteorites. Also, the museum has changing exhibitions that focus on new research at Harvard University, which just makes the museum even more fascinating to anyone who is even remotely interested in natural history.
The Boston Museum of Fine Arts is the perfect museum for all art lovers in this city. It’s not just one of the best museums in Boston overall, but also the 10th largest museum of its kind in the world.
This museum boasts a collection of 8,161 paintings, as well as more than 450,000 different works of art. It was founded back in 1870, and it is situated at Fenway, in southwestern Boston.
The Museum of Fine Arts boasts an extensive collection of artifacts from various periods, including everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts to provocative contemporary art. The museum has an entire wing dedicated to modern-day art, which mostly includes works by some of the most prominent American artists.
Additionally, this Boston museum boasts a variety of other collections, from works by famous French (post) impressionist artists, to the largest collection of Japanese art outside Japan.
The MIT Museum was founded in 1971 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s not a museum in the city of Boston, but it is a museum in the Boston Metropolitan Area, connected to the city with the Longfellow Bridge over the Charles River. The MIT museum was previously situated on the MIT campus, but it’s been relocated to a new building in Kendall Square in 2021.
The museum is an absolute must for all travelers in Boston who are interested in technology. With collections on artificial intelligence, architecture, maritime history, robotics, holography, and technology-related art, it’s a thoroughly fascinating museum for all fellow tech lovers.
The museum’s various collections also chronicle the history of MIT, while the Mark Epstein Innovation Gallery proudly displays MIT’s most recent research. Sometimes during the winter season, it’s possible to observe holograms displayed through the building’s big windows.
The ICA was initially founded as the Boston Museum of Modern Art, and it was located in a venue provided by Harvard’s Busch-Reisinger Museum and the Fogg Museum. This was back in 1936, and since then, this popular Boston museum has undergone several venue and name changes.
Its exhibitions have also changed quite a bit since the initial establishment of the museum but in a good way. The permanent exhibit at the museum has grown to include artworks by some of the most prominent personas in contemporary art, while the temporary collections are constantly changing.
It’s also worth noting that the ICA promotes up-and-coming artists with solo shows, which is one of the key things that makes them stand out amongst all the other Boston museums.
It’s no secret that sports are a big thing in Boston, so it’s not at all surprising that the city has a museum dedicated to its most important teams. The Sports Museum is situated on the 5th and 6th floors of Boston’s largest arena, TD Garden.
The famous stadium is home to both the Celtics and the Bruins, and the museum has exhibits on both teams, plus a few others. At the sports museum, it’s possible to explore exhibits relating to all the major sports teams in Boston and in New England, including the Patriots, the Red Sox, the Whalers, and others.
The Sports Museum’s vast collection also features artifacts and memorabilia related to rugby, soccer, boxing, and the Boston Marathon. There are also life-sized statues of some of the most prominent figures in Boston’s sports, including Larry Bird, Bobby Orr, Harry Agganis, and Carl Yastrzemski.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is another one of the many art museums in Boston. It was initially founded by Isabella Stewart Gardner, an American art collector who wanted all her art to be displayed for educational purposes after her passing.
The museum boasts an incredibly diverse art collection, including painting, decorative arts, statues and so much more from various periods. It’s home to objects from ancient Rome, 19th-century France and America, Renaissance Italy, medieval Europe, and a lot more. Out of all the Boston museums, art in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum truly appeals to the widest audience.
In recent history, the museum is perhaps best known as being the target of one of the greatest heists of the modern age. Back in 1990, thirteen works of art were stolen from the museum, the total value of which was estimated to be around $500 million. The perpetrators were never caught, but there is certain evidence that links the heist to the Italian mob in Boston.
There’s a documentary series on Netflix (This is a Robbery) about the heist, and it’s a great binge-watch if you want to know more about what happened at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
The Boston Museum of African and American History is the largest museum of its kind in New England. It aims to preserve and interpret the various contributions of the free Black Americans in Massachusetts during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Massachusetts was the first state to abolish slavery outright, back in 1738, but the slave trade still persisted in the state. During the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a community of free black Americans who lived in Boston, and this museum explores their various contributions to the American Revolution.
The USS Constitution Museum was established in 1972 in the Charlestown Navy Yard. It is part of the Boston National Historical Park, and it sits at the end of the Boston Freedom Trail, close to the USS Constitution ship.
The museum uses its interactive exhibits and other collections to tell the story of the USS constitution. The various exhibits cover everything, from the people who first designed the ship, to the captains who sailed her. This museum also houses the Samuel Eliot Morison Memorial Library, which is dedicated to the famous historian who is famous for his work in maritime history.
It’s worth noting that the USS Constitution Museum is a private organization, operated separately from the USS Constitution itself. It is physically close to the ship, so there’s nothing stopping you from exploring both the museum and the famous vessel in the same afternoon. The museum has paid admission, while the ship is free for all visitors.
The Boston Tea Party was one of the most famous events in American history and an integral part of the country’s attempt to gain independence from the UK.
A few months after the Tea Act allowed the British East India Company to sell Chinese tea to the US without paying taxes, the Sons of Liberty gathered at the harbor in Fort Point Channel in protest and threw an entire shipment of tea into the Boston harbor.
This started a chain of events that would later become known as the American Revolution, and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum details absolutely everything you need to know about the iconic event.
The museum even features full-scale replicas of the 18th-century sailing vessels, and there’s even a 3D reenactment of the famous event. Also, the museum is home to the only surviving Robinson Tea Chest, which has been preserved here since 1773!
Additionally, it’s worth noting that this museum has an awesome gift shop, where you can purchase some of the best Boston souvenirs! They sell everything from bricks of tea to (fake) pistols from colonial times, so they’re definitely worth checking out if you’re in need of some interesting souvenirs!
Nichols House Museum is a museum on Beacon Hill in Boston, situated in the house of Rose Standish Nichols. She was a famous landscaper from Boston, but that’s not the only thing Nichols is known for. Rose Standish Nichols was also a suffragist, a pacifist, as well as a member of the Cornish Art Colony.
She lived in this house for most of her life, between 1885 and 1960. The museum is known for its rooms decorated with furniture and art from the turn of the century, as well as exhibits that detail the life of the American Upper Class.
The vast collection of this museum includes more than 1,800 objects, which range from Flemish tapestries to everyday objects used by Nichols. There are also sculptures, artworks, textiles, and furniture from Boston in Nichols House, and they’re just the highlights of the museum’s impressive collection.
Paul Revere House is a 1680 house situated in Boston’s North End. It was once the colonial home of Paul Revere, a famous American patriot who is best-known for the Midnight Ride – the alert to American colonial militia that informed them that the British forces were approaching.
This happened just before the battles of Lexington and Concord, and historians view it as one of the key events that helped the colonists eventually win the war.
The house of Paul Revere was designated a National Historic Landmark, and it is nowadays a museum open to the public. It’s also the oldest house in downtown Boston, and it really stands out from all the other historic buildings in the area.
The museum is rather small, and it features artifacts and rooms from the period when they were initially constructed. It’s certainly an interesting place to visit in Boston, especially if you are interested in American history.
The West End Museum is a museum entirely dedicated to the preservation of the culture and history of Boston’s West End neighborhood. The museum is not very big, and it consists of three exhibition spaces, plus its archives. If you’re interested in the city’s history, this is definitely one of the best museums in Boston to visit.
The Last Tenement is the museum’s permanent exhibit, and it chronicles the history of the neighborhood during the period of the immigrant era, as well as its architecture, blooming, and ultimately, the damage done by the urban renewal program. This exhibit has its own space in the museum, while the other two exhibition areas are used for rotating exhibits that change every few months.
Boston Fire Museum is housed in the historic fire station located at 344 Congress Street. The building is famous for its Romanesque architecture, which was designed by Harrison H. Atwood.
The fire station building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, along with two other Boston buildings designed by Atwood – the Bowditch School and the Harvard Avenue Fire Station.
Although the Boston Fire Museum holds great importance for the city of Boston, both in terms of history and culture, as a museum it’s not that fascinating.
It’s worth a visit if you’re into firefighting since it does have a pretty educational collection of fire fighting memorabilia from Boston. Otherwise, just check out the spectacular building and visit a different Boston museum.
Boston Children’s Museum is a museum dedicated to educating children. It is the second oldest children’s museum in all of the United States, and it’s easily the best museum in Boston for anyone with a child. If you’re looking for a place where your kid can have fun but also learn a lot in the process, just bring them to the Boston Children’s Museum.
This is such an interesting museum that it will make fully grown adults wish that they could be a kid again just for a couple of hours. It’s like a science museum, natural history museum, and a heritage museum all in one, with a variety of permanent and rotating exhibits on African American history and culture, science, crafts, space, and so much more.
The interactive exhibits are hands down the most interesting part of the museum. They aim to educate children through play, and this includes everything from KEVA planks that help kids learn maths to Johnny’s Workbench that teaches them how to use different tools and materials.
DeCordova Sculpture Park & Museum is an open-air museum situated in a 30-acre park. It boasts sculptures and modern artworks, and it is the largest park of its kind in all of New England.
This fascinating museum is situated 20 miles northwest of Boston, and it’s definitely worth the detour if you want to see some contemporary works of art. The museum is situated on Julian de Cordova’s former estate, which is exactly how it got its name.
The park and museum feature sculptures from some of the most renowned modern artists, but it also organizes exhibitions for emerging New England artists. It’s worth noting that every piece of art on the beautifully landscaped grounds of the park has its own QR code which, when scanned, provides visitors with more information on that specific sculpture and the artist behind it!
The Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is situated in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, right next to the University of Massachusetts. It’s home to everything related to the Kennedy administration, but also to the other members of the Kennedy family. If you are even a little bit interested in JFK, his life, and time spent as president of the US, you’ll absolutely love it in this Boston Museum.
The permanent exhibits of the Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum include collections of photographs, memorabilia, and videos that chronicle JFK’s life. There are seven permanent exhibits, spanning everything from the former president’s early life to all of Jacqueline Kennedy’s contributions and achievements.
JFK’s time as president of the United States is thoroughly documented in the museum, with exhibitions on the campaign trail, his inauguration, the Space Race, and more. In addition to that, this fascinating museum also boasts temporary special exhibits. They’re also related to JFK in a way – previously, these special exhibitions included a chronicle of JFK’s time on Cape Cod, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Caroline Kennedy’s doll collection, and more.
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