Boston Museums

Art, Sports, History - Museums in Boston for All Interests!

30+ Boston museums give you fascinating exhibits and places to explore, whatever your interests.

Boston museums feature everything from antique cars to electric cars . . . fossils to biotech . . . 17th century houses to 21st century design . . . Boston Tea Party artifacts to Boston Red Sox memorabilia . . . Egyptian mummies to avant-garde sculpture. 

Visit Boston museums, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, where this mural is displayed
Egyptian exhibit mural at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts

Whether you have an hour or a whole day, be sure to visit at least one of Boston's world class museums - it will be a memorable part of your visit!  And if the weather is less than perfect, a museum visit will provide hours of indoor entertainment.

Keep in mind that Boston museums offer free admission when you have a Boston Discount Card. 

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In addition to museums, these Boston discount passes also give you free admission to lots of other attractions, tours, cruises, and day trips - compare the savings!

Check out the museums in Boston described below to find those that you'll enjoy the most.

 

Boston Museums - Science and Technology

 

New England Aquarium

New England Aquarium1 Central Wharf, Downtown Waterfront, Boston; 617-973-5200

This extremely popular Boston museum is home to an incredible array of marine life.  The aquarium features seals, penguins, a giant aquarium, ocean reefs, and of course, fish of all shapes, colors, and sizes. 

More about New England Aquarium


 

Museum of Science

Museum of Science viewed from Charles RiverMuseum of Science, 1 Science Park, West End, Boston; www.mos.org

On-going exhibits and special presentations cover a wide range of biological, physical, and space science and technology. Lots of interactive displays engage children and adults in an exploration of the world.

 

Boston discount cards for museum admission

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60 ways to save up to 55%
On attractions, tours, cruises
CityPASS
5 top attractions in 9 days
Over 50% savings
Go Select
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attractions, cruises - Save BIG!
GoBoston discount card at www.boston-discovery-guide.com CityPASS Boston discount card at www.boston-discovery-guide.com GoSelect Boston discount card at www.boston-discovery-guide.com

Compare Boston discount passes offering free admission to New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, Museum of Fine Arts, Institute of Contemporary Art, John F. Kennedy Library and Museum plus other museums in Boston, Salem, Concord, and Plymouth.

 

Harvard Museum of Natural History

Glass Flowers - Museum of Natural History26 Oxford Street, Cambridge; www.hmnh.harvard.edu

One of the best Boston museums for kids and adults alike.  Vast collection containing everything from a 42 foot-long Kronosaurus skeleton to incredible gems and minerals, each more beautiful than the next.  Many visitors come just to see the world-famous Blaschka glass flower collection.  


 

Boston Fire Museum

Photo of Boston Fire Museum in South Boston Waterfront, where you can see fire-fighting equipment dating back to the 1700s / Boston Museums - www.boston-discovery-guide.com344 Congress Street, Fort Point area of South Boston Waterfront; limited visitor hours; website

Located in a historic granite, brick, and red tile building, this small museum exhibits a hand-operated pumper dating from 1793, a steam pumper from 1882, and a ladder truck from 1860.


 

Charles Hayden Planetarium

See starry skies in Hayden PlanetariumMuseum of Science, 1 Science Park, West End, Boston; www.mos.org  (click on Planetarium link)

Located in the Boston Museum of Science, the Planetarium offers several shows featuring stars, planets, constellations, and the cosmos, plus free Friday night stargazing at the Gilliland Observatory.


 

Warren Anatomical Museum

Warren Anatomical MuseumCountway Library of Medicine's Center for the History of Medicine, 10 Shattuck Street in Boston's Fenway neighborhood; 617-432-6196; website

Fascinating medical museum with historical exhibits; a highlight is the skull of Phineas Gage, subject of early neurological studies after an iron rod accidentally blasted through half of his brain.  Free admission.

 

Lars Anderson Auto Museum

Lars Anderson Auto Museum15 Newton Street, Brookline, MA; 617-522-6547; www.larzanderson.org

Located in the original carriage house, this Boston museum features America's oldest car collection, gorgeous grounds, spectacular Boston skyline views, and a public ice skating rink open in the winter.


 

MIT Museum

Electric car prototype at MIT MuseumMassachusetts Institute of Technology, 265 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA; 617-253-5927; website

Interactive technology and science exhibits feature holograms, robotics, innovative engineering, oceanographic research, scientific instruments, and more.  Great place for kids as well as adults.


 

Boston Museums - Art

 

Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts - Boston465 Huntington Ave, Fenway, Boston; 617-267-9300; www.mfa.org

With everything from mummies to textiles to musical instruments - plus paintings, sculpture, jewelry, and everything else you might imagine - the MFA is one of the world's most comprehensive art museums, recently made even better by the opening of the pectacular new Art of the Americas Wing



Institute of Contemporary Art

Contemporary Art Museum100 Northern Avenue, South Boston Waterfront

The new ICA's spectacular design and waterfront location provide a stunning backdrop for revolving exhibitions of contemporary art, video, and mixed media, plus performances and films. 

More about ICA Boston


 

Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library Inner Courtyard700 Boylston Street, Copley Square, Boston; 617-536-5400

Although not technically a museum, the 1895 Renaissance Revival Boston Public Library is crammed with spectacular paintings, tapestries, and sculpture - plus the fabulous 3rd floor John Singer Sargent Gallery.   More about the Boston Public Library

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Harvard Art Museums - Fogg Art Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Sackler Museum

Paul Gauguin painting at Fogg Art MuseumClosed for renovations until 2013, when all three museums will be combined in a magnificent new facility by Renzo Piano.  Until the reopening, you can see select pieces displayed at the Sackler Museum, 485 Broadway, Cambridge, MA; 617-495-9400; www.harvardartmuseums.org

The Fogg Art Museum specializes in British pre-Raphaelite, Italian Renaissance, and French art, the Sackler specializes in Islamic, Turkish, and East Asian art, and the Busch-Reisinger specializes in Germanic art.  More info


 

Grand Circle Gallery

Paul Gauguin painting at Fogg Art Museum347 Congress Street, Fort Point district in South Boston Waterfront

Stunning vintage travel posters from the "Golden Age of Travel" in the first half of the 20th century, black and white photographs, plus special exhibits in this small museum-like gallery.  Free admission. 

More about Grand Circle Gallery


 

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner MuseumThree treasure-filled floors surround an inner courtyard in this 1903 mansion styled like a 15th century Venetian palace.  Some of the art is stunning, and the rest is an interesting reflection of a collector's vision,  Frequent concerts and lush flowering plants enhance the ambiance.

280 The Fenway, Boston; 617-566-1401; www.gardnermuseum.org


 

McMullen Museum of Art

McMullen Museum of ArtBoston College, 140 Commonwealth Ave, Devlin Hall 108, Chestnut Hill, MA; 617-552-8587; www.bc.edu - click on museum link

Global collections include Gothic and Baroque tapestries, 16th and 17th century Italian paintings, and American paintings. Terrific special exhibits.


 

Museum of the National Center for Afro-American Artists

Eternal Presence sculpture by John Wilson at Museum of the National Center for Afro-American Artists300 Walnut Ave, Roxbury, Boston; 617-442-8614; www.ncaaa.org

The museum's collections of African, Afro-Latin, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-American visual arts include a wide range of historical and contemporary paintings, sculpture, prints, photography, and decorative arts.


 

Rose Art Museum

Rose Art Museum near Boston415 South Street, Waltham; 781-736-3434; www.brandeis.edu/rose/

This small museum's outstanding collection of modern and contemporary art is the best in New England, with particular strength in American artists of the 1960s and 1970s.  Come here for abstract expressionists, conceptual artists, and pop art . . . modernism, surrealism, social realism, photorealism, color field painting, minimalism - you'll find it all here in recently renovated galleries.  The Rose Art Museum belongs to Brandeis University so if you're planning a visit, check the website for hours, as the museum closes during school holidays.


 

Boston Museums - Sports

 

New England Sports Museum

New England Sports MuseumCauseway Street next to North Station, West End, Boston, MA; 617-624-1235; www.sportsmuseum.org

Housed on the 5th and 6th floors of TD Garden, this museum pays tribute to Boston's love of sports, featuring exhibits sure to appeal to Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, and Revolution fans.

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Boston Museums - History, Heritage, Archaeology, Houses

Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum

Boston Tea Party - Old Copperplate EngravingCongress Street Bridge over Fort Point Channel, Boston; www.bostonteapartyship.com

After being closed since 2001 for renovations following a major fire, the Boston Tea Party Museum reopened in Summer 2012 - bigger and better, with tall ship replicas and interactive living history exhibits.

Find out about visiting the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum



Commonwealth Museum

Commonwealth MuseumIn the State Archives Building across from the Kennedy Museum, 220 Morrissey Boulevard, Dorchester; 617-727-9268

See one of the 14 original copies of the Declaration of Independance and the U.S. Bill of Rights, the state’s constitution, the 1629 charter of the Company of the Massachusetts Bay, and more.


 

Gibson House Museum

Gibson House Museum137 Beacon Street, Back Bay; 617-267-6338

This remarkably well-preserved 1860 Italian Renaissance house, home to 3 generations of the Gibson family, became a Boston museum in 1957 and in 1983 served as the site for the Merchant-Ivory film, The Bostonians.


 

Harvard Semitic Museum

Harvard Semitic Museum6 Divinity Ave, Cambridge; 617-495-4631; www.fas.harvard.edu/~semitic/

Exhibits from Harvard's collection of pottery, sculpture, coins, cuneiform tablets, and other cultural artifacts from archaeological expeditions to Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Cyprus, and Tunisia.


 

Boston Holocaust Memorial

New England Holocaust MemorialCongress Street between Hanover and North Street, Downtown Boston

Created by Nazi Holocaust survivors in the Boston area, the memorial's 6 glass towers symbolize the major death camps. Six million names are etched in the towers, designed to also resemble a menorah.  More about Boston Holocaust Memorial


 

John F. Kennedy Library and Museum

John F Kennedy Library and MuseumColumbia Point, Dorchester, Boston; 617-514-1600; www.jfklibrary.org

Dedicated to the memory of the 35th American president, this I.M. Pei museum overlooking the Boston waterfront presents multi-media "you are there" exhibits about Kennedy's life and times.


 

Museum of African American History

Museum of Afro-American History46 Joy Street at Smith Court intersection, Beacon Hill, Boston; www.afroammuseum.org

Housed in historic Abiel Smith School on the Black Heritage Trail, the Museum of Afro-American History features rotating exhibits about Colonial period African-American Bostonians.


 

Nichols House Museum

Nichols House Museum55 Mount Vernon Street, Beacon Hill, Boston; www.nicholshousemuseum.org

This 1804 townhouse, home of landscape gardener / peace activist Rose Standish Nichols, was designed by Charles Bulfinch and is filled with treasures of an upper-class, well-traveled life.


 

Old South Meeting House Museum

Old South Meeting House Museum310 Washington Street, Downtown Boston

Interactive exhibits give life to history in this former Puritan place of worship, a museum since 1878, where many of the speeches and events leading up to the American Revolution took place.  More about Old South Meeting House Museum


 

Old State House Museum

Old State House MuseumCorner of Washington and State Streets, Downtown Boston

Explore two floors of interactive, hands-on exhibitions about the role played by the Old State House in the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre - events leading up to the American Revolution.  More about Old State House Museum


 

Otis House Museum

Harrison Gray Otis House Museum141 Cambridge Street, West End (across from Beacon Hill), Boston; 617-227-3957; website

Designed by famed architect Charles Bulfinch and built in 1796, this Federal-style house provides a glimpse into the decor and furnishings of an upper-class home after the American Revolution.


 

Paul Revere House

Paul Revere House Museum19 North Square, North End, Boston

Crafted from carved timbers, this is the only 17th century wood dwelling in its original Boston site. The museum, part of Boston's Freedom Trail, displays Revere's metal work plus late 17th century maps, furniture, and furnishings.

More about Paul Revere House


 

Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology

Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology at Harvard UniversityFounded in 1866 and one of the oldest museums in the world devoted to anthropology and human cultural history, many of the Peabody's exhibits and lectures focus on Native American communities and customs.

11 Divinity Ave, Cambridge, MA; website


 

The Vilna Shul

Vilna Shul, Boston Jewish heritage museum in Beacon HillThe Vilna Shul, a Jewish heritage museum, occupies the only remaining immigrant-era synagogue in Boston and commemorates the history of this part of Beacon Hill (once part of the West End), and the Eastern European Jewish community in Boston.  Restored murals, layers of history, and interesting informational displays.

18 Phillips St, Beacon Hill, Boston; www.vilnashul.org


 

USS Constitution 

USS Constitution Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown, MA

The wooden USS Constitution built in 1793 is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Nicknamed "Old Ironsides" after repelling British cannonballs in the War of 1812, this ship-museum is wildly popular with kids.

Find out about USS Constitution tours from Boston

 

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Boston Museums - Children's Museums

Boston Children's Museum

Boston Children's Museum300 Congress Street; South Boston Waterfront.

Lots of hands-on fun exhibits and activities makes this the museum of choice for the younger (perhaps 9 and under) crowd.  Exhibits focus on the environment, science, culture, fitness, and the arts. 

More about Boston Children's Museum


 

Boston Area Museums

Although they're outside of Boston, the following Boston area museums have such special collections that they are well worth a visit.

 

DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park

Jim Dine sculpture at Decordova Museum and Sculpture Park51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, MA; 781-259-8355; website

The DeCordova Museum focuses on regional modern and contemporary artists. The centerpiece attraction is the wooded rolling 35-acre sculpture park, featuring about 75 large-to-massive fascinating pieces.




Hall at Patriot Place

Boston museums include the Hall at Patriot PlacePatriot Place (go in the north entrance), Route 1, Foxborough, MA; 508-698-4800; www.patriot-place.com

This shrine to football and the New England Patriots is a fun multi-media museum within the Patriot Place statium/entertainment complex in Foxborough, 22 miles south of Boston. 


 

Higgins Armory Museum

Boston museums include the Hall at Patriot Place100 Barber Avenue, Worcester, MA; 508-853-6015; museum website

The only museum in the Americas dedicated to the collection of armor, arms, tapestries, stained glass, and art.  A MUST for fans of Medieval and Renaissance history, life, and culture.


 

Peabody Essex Museum

Peabody Essex Museum161 Essex Street, East India Square, Salem, MA; 978-422-3390; website

Founded in 1799 to preserve treasures brought back from around the world by New England sea captains, the PEM continues this global focus today, recently acquiring a Chinese Qing Dynasty house to add to its collection of early American houses.  Check out the display of original transcripts from the Salem witch trials, part of the museum's stellar rare book collection.


 

Plimouth Plantation

Plimouth Plantation137 Warren Ave, Plymouth, MA; 508-746-1622

This "living" recreation of early 17th century Pilgrim and Wampanoag settlements features costumed actors who stay in role as they answer questions and explain their characters' lives and culture. Interesting for both adults and children.


 

Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History

Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History235 Wellesley Street at Regis College, Wellesley, MA; 781-768-8367; http://www.spellman.org/

One of the most unusual Boston museums, the Spellman Museum uses its stamp collections to promote knowledge and understanding of world history and diverse cultures.



 

Wenham Museum

Photo of Wenhan Museum132 Main Street, Wenham, MA (about 1/2 hour north of Boston); more about Wenham Museum

Outstanding collections of model railways, dolls, dollhouses, clothing and textiles, and lead soldiers, plus a house to tour dating from 1690.  Interesting to children as well as adults.

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If you're interested in Boston Museums, here are more options:
  • Some people think of Fenway Park as a living history museum.  That's probably stretching the definition of "museum" - but if you feel that way, you can go on a Fenway Park Tour
  • Other people even call Boston a living history museum - that's not true either, but in fact many historical buildings and places have been preserved, and are part of the city's landscape, especially in the older sections of downtown and Beacon Hill.  To get a great view of historical Boston, follow the Freedom Trail, where you'll find several museums.
  • If art museums are your big interest, don't forget another great place to view art in Boston - art galleries, especially those on and near Newbury Street.  The biggest benefit?  Fall in love with a piece, and you can take it home with you!
Entrance to the Japanese Garden at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts
Entrance to the Japanese Garden at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts

 

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Find all the fun ways to see Boston - everything from strolls along the Freedom Trail (with or without costumed guides) to Duck Boat land and sea tours to Boston Harbor Cruises. And don't forget about fascinating nearby sites - historic Concord, Salem, Plimouth Plantation.

 

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