By Susan M. Keenan © 2007
Boston and the surrounding areas offer a wide variety of historical, cultural, and educational museums for those who are inclined to explore the finer things in life. A few of the most popular are included here. The exhibits are as diverse as they are entertaining.
The Museum of Fine Arts, located on 465 Huntington Avenue, showcases both contemporary and ancient artwork including those of American, European, African, Asiatic, and Oceanic backgrounds. Open since 1876, the museum began in Copley Square, only to relocate in its current location in 1909. Although it is closed on a few major holidays, the museum is open daily. Guided tours are available in addition to paid admissions.
The museum includes nearly 450,000 pieces of original artwork including those of Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Perre Auguste Renoir, James McNeil Whistler, Rembrandt, and John Singleton Copley. In addition to paintings, the museum houses drawings, photographs, prints, musical instruments, and more. In fact, the Ancient World Collection includes mummies, jewelry, sculpture, coins, and ceramics.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, located at 280 The Fenway, showcases a private collection of the sculpture, paintings, furniture and textiles produced by famous artists including Titian, Rembrandt, and Boticelli. The museum is housed in a beautiful palazzo that features a courtyard garden.
Although it is closed on Thanksgiving and December 25, the museum is open daily. Guided tours are available on Tuesdays through Fridays in addition to the offered entrance by paid admissions.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, housed in a glass and concrete building of dramatic presence, is located at 220 William T. Morrissey Boulevard near the campus for the University of Massachusetts. This tribute to the nationís 35th president offers 25 exhibits that take visitors through the life of this man. The museum is open daily during the day and includes waterfront views.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History, located at 26 Oxford Street in Cambridge, is actually three individual museums- the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Mineralogical Geological Museum, and the Botanical Museum. The exhibits range from mammals to birds to fish to plants to minerals to gemstones to agates. Although it is closed on Thanksgiving, December 24, December 25, and January 1, the museum is open daily during the day.
The Concord Museum, located at 200 Lexington Road in Concord, houses 13 art galleries along with several period rooms including the contents of Ralph Waldo Emersonís study and a collection of Henry David Thoreauís personal possessions including his bed, chair, and desk.
The Peabody Essex Museum is located at 161 Essex Street in Salem and includes over two million magnificent works of architectural and cultural art. Twenty-four historic buildings are open to the public along with exhibits of folk art, portraits, photographic works, furniture, and more. The collections include examples of maritime art as well. The museum is open daily during the day with the exception of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1.
The New England Aquarium is located on the waterfront at Central Wharf. It showcases over 20,000 specimens, an outdoor seal tank, and a coral reef exhibit. The inhabitants of the aquarium include penguins, tropical fish, Australian sea dragons, moray eels, and more. Open daily during the day, the museumís hours vary so call ahead for specific times.
The Museum of Science, located at 1 Science Park in Boston, offers more than 500 exhibits including topics such as astronomy, technology, physical science, medicine, and natural history. The museum also features a butterfly garden, cinema, and food concessions. It is open daily into the early evening with the exception of Thanksgiving and December 25.