Boston is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. Therefore, that the museums in Boston are some of the best.
The history of Boston, Massachusetts plays a central role in American history. Founded in 1630, Boston was where the Puritans first arrived, where the Boston Tea Party was held, where the American Revolution began – AKA, it has a long, complex history. So naturally it’s had time to build and grow museums to reflect that. Museums in Boston are some of the most well curated museums in the U.S. Visitors can get a taste of every when exploring museums in Boston – from art and science to history and culture.
Once you’ve checked out Fenway, the Freedom Trail, and the Boston Commons, consider taking a museum tour. Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we’re here to guide you. Read up on some of the best, coolest, and most unusual museums in Boston to explore during your visit to Beantown.
1. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Credit: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston / Facebook
If art is your thing, then this is one of the best museums in Boston for you. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA) is often at the top of every traveler’s list of things to do during their stay in the city. MFA is one of the biggest museums in the U.S. and is considered one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world. Founded in 1870 (then moved to its current location in 1909) MFA is home to a collection of more than 450,000 works of art ranging from the 18th century to its Making Modern exhibit, featuring art by the beloved Frida Kahlo and Jackson Pollock. Fun fact: MFA also has one of the largest online databases in the world that provides information on more than 346,000 works in its collection. MFA’s dedication to making art more accessible is why we consider it one of the best museums in Boston.
The museum’s collection has work from all across the world, including Asia, The Ancient World, Europe, The Americas, and Europe. It is MFA’s mission to educate its visitors not only on the history of art but the culture behind each piece. For example, the Daily Life in Ancient Greece gallery takes guests on a journey through an “engaging visual introduction to the complexities of daily life in ancient Greek society: who they were, how they lived, and how they commemorated the dead.”
If you’re a traveler who prefers the finer things in life, consider visiting the museum on MFA First Friday. Every first Friday of the month from 6pm – 9:30pm, visitors can enjoy music, cocktails, food, and art at the MFA! Can’t make it to MFA but want to get a taste for its exhibits? Take a look at interior views of the galleries by visiting MFA on Google Arts and Culture.
The museum is open Sunday-Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults. Visit their website to learn more.
2. Harvard Museum of Natural History
You already know that Boston is a city with a long, rich history. So naturally, its museums on history are going to be some of the best in the U.S. The Harvard Museum of Natural History (HMNH) is one of the best museums in Boston to visit if you want to see artifacts covering all facets of life, from zoology and biosciences to archaeology and geology. Founded in 1998, HMNH’s mission is “to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the human place in it.” With each exhibit, HMNH takes an extremely particular topic and deeply investigates it, allowing visitors to home in on aspects of the natural world they’ve never considered before. The Arthropods exhibit takes an in-depth look at the 500 year history of arthropods. The exhibit has hands-on and multimedia activities to give guests a well-rounded view on the topic.
HMNH also specializes in taking popular topics in modern day society and exploring its background to provide visitors with context on the issue. For example, Climate Change explores “the past, present, and future of climate, engage with the new simulation globe, consider the facts, and draw your own conclusions.” HMNH is truly one of the best museums to visit in Boston for adventurers with an interest in every pocket of the world around them from the beginning of time to today.
HMNH also has online exhibits for people those who may not have time to visit the museum in person.
The museum is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and closed on major holidays. Tickets are $15 for adults. Visit their website for more information.
3. Museum of Medical History and Innovation
Credit: Russell Museum at MGH / Facebook
This is another one of the more niche and specific museums in Boston, but definitely worth visiting if you have the time. The Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation allows visitors to take a look at the 200 year history and “evolution of health care and medicine” at Massachusetts General Hospital (Mass General) The hospital was founded in 1811 during a time when the wealthy were able to afford medical care at home and the poor had to go to almshouses – charity housing and group homes for the lower class – if they wanted medical treatment. Thus, Mass General was born to provide medical services to Boston’s public.
The museum’s namesake, Paul S. Russel, was chief of surgery of Mass General from 1962 to 1968 and directed the Mass General Transplantation Unit from 1968 to 1990. The museum takes visitors on a journey through the hospital’s history and accomplishments through interactive media displays, artifacts, and photographs. One exhibit, Mass General on the Front Lines, explores how Mass General provided for member of the military during wartime and how war “inevitably influenced and shaped Mass General and the care it provides.” Therefore not only is this one of the best museums in Boston for those with an interest in medicine and science, it also offers a great opportunity to take a look at how medicine has been influenced by Boston and its place in American history.
The Museum of Medical History and Innovation is sure to give you a better appreciation for modern medicine and its accomplishments. After just one visit you’ll discover the medical contributions that came out of Mass General and how those achievements affected advancements in healthcare as a whole.
The museum is open Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays in April through October from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Visit their website for more information.
4. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Credit: Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
This is hands down one of the best museums in Boston to visit for travelers specifically looking for a look at Boston’s history – and come face-to-face with an event that helped spark the American Revolution! The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum helps guests be a part of the famous event that forever changed the course of American history. The museum offers an in-depth look at the Boston Tea Party and its influence on the American Revolution through the use of historical interpreters, interactive exhibits, historical artifacts, the award-winning multi-sensory documentary “Let It Begin Here,” and, last but not least, a look at full-scale restored 18th Century sailing vessels that were present at the infamous Tea Party.
A tour through this historical journey lasts approximately one hour. The fully-guided experience includes an 18th Century “host” that will lead groups through an interactive colonial town hall meeting all the way to one of the ships where visitors can “dump” tea into the Boston harbor. This is truly one of the best museums in Boston to visit to get a taste of what life what like in 18th Century Boston and early America.
As a bonus, visitors can explore Abigail’s Tea Room and taste baked goods and sample five of the teas that were thrown overboard at the Boston Tea Party. For travelers looking for an immersive historical experience, this is one of the top museums in Boston to consider visiting.
5. Museum of Science
Credit: Museum of Science / Facebook
The Museum of Science (MOS) in Boston is dedicated to deepening the public’s relationship with science and technology. Through hands-on, interactive, permanent, and rotating exhibits and galleries, MOS helps its visitors experience STEM in a way they never have before. Permanent galleries in the museum covers the “basics”: electricity, geology, mathematics, space, engineering, and animals (MOS even has a “live care” animal center on its lower level!) In addition to the temporary exhibits and the permanent museum collection, there are also different lectures and events scheduled throughout the day to attend. For an additional fee, you can also watch featured IMAX films or Planetarium shows. The wide range of exhibits and experiences that MOS offers is why we consider it one of the most in-depth and interesting museums in Boston to explore.
One of the museum’s most popular permanent exhibits is Hall of Human Life, which gives visitors a different perspective on their own bodies and biology through interactive experiences. In an effort to always be teaching its guests something new, MOS brings in new exhibits multiple times a year. Defeating Disease, a current temporary exhibit, explore the progress that has been made throughout to defeat infectious diseases like Guinea worm, polio, malaria, and more. MOS also offers a variety of live presentations and other public events.
Fun fact: the museum is also an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited institution and have approximately 120 animals from more than 50 species in its Live Animal Care CenterOverall, MOS is one of the best museums to visit for travelers looking for an activity that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
The museum is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $28 for adults. Visit their website for more information.
6. Paul Revere House
Credit: National Park Service
“The British are coming! The British are coming!” You all know his famous quote (though rumor has it his quote was fabricated) now it’s time to explore where he lived! Originally built in 1680, the Paul Revere House in Boston is the oldest remaining structure in downtown Boston. The house offers visitors a close-up look at Paul Revere’s life and the history of the Revere family. Filled with historical, artifacts including the Revere family’s actual furniture and silver, the house is an inexpensive and fun opportunity to get a closer look at Boston’s rich history. Fun fact: the neighborhood that the house is located in was once a home and workplace for the most skilled artisans, tradesman, and merchants.
Today, visitors can take a self-guided tour through the house and its surrounding streets and experience the sites where some of the earliest American citizens once explored. The is one of the best museums in Boston for people interested in taking a quick look at Boston and American history without breaking the bank.
The museum is open Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. It closes at closes at 4:15 p.m. from November 1 to April 14. Tickets for adults are $5. Visit their website for more information.
7. The Mapparium
Credit; The Mapparium
This is easily one of the most visually pleasing and unique museums in Boston to explore. An extension of the Mary Baker Eddy Library, the Mapparium is a three-story, stained-glass globe representing what the world looked like in 1935. It is one of the most popularly visited attractions at the Mary Baker Eddy Library and has recently been updated with A World of Ideas, a presentation that features a r”ich orchestration of words, music, and LED lights to illustrate how ideas have traversed time and geography and changed the world.” Recently the library also added an exhibit called The Mapparium: An Inside View. The new exhibit features letters, documents, and artifacts that showcase the construction, history, and significance of the Mapparium as an architectural achievement. This exhibit is even more special as these artifacts have never before been released to the public!
If you do make a trip to see the Mapparium, it’s worth exploring the Mary Baker Eddy museum, as well. The library, founded in 2002, is dedicated to Mary Baker Eddy, an American author, teacher, and religious leader who is best known for founding Christian Science. This is one of the best museums in Boston to visit if you’re looking to take in a slice of life that you’ve likely never read or learned about before.
Overall, a visit to the library is inexpensive, immersive, and offers visitors a chance to see a beautiful and remarkable work of architecture. The museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m Tickets for adults are $6. Visit their website for more information.
This is just a small look at the museums in Boston covering art, history, and culture that are worthy of exploring.
Taking a tour of all the fascinating museums in Boston is one of the best things to do during your visit to Beantown. If you want to take in even more art, take a look into visiting the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston or the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. If historical sights and museums suit your fancy, take a gander through Old North Church, the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, or a stroll through the Freedom Trail. The possibilities are endless!
There is genuinely something for everybody to enjoy at the many museums in Boston. Do yourself a favor and book a flight, find a hotel, and get ready for a trip of a lifetime in one of the nation’s oldest cities.
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