Boston's Top Museums

Explore Boston's world-class museums -- the Boston Tea Party Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Science (Boston) and more.
By: Lisa Singh
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Photo by: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

As one of America’s oldest cities, Boston has museums to fit just about every age and interest. Many of them are wonderfully interactive, too. Journey back to 18th century colonial days. Take a journey through the solar system. See world-class art. And for the sports buff, get your picture taken with Boston Celtics great Larry Bird. It’s all here at Boston’s top museums.

Boston Tea Party Museum
Relive one of America’s defining moments, and throw some tea overboard while you’re at it. The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum sees its grand reopening in July 2012 (the original museum burned down in 2007, after being struck by lightning). Located in the middle of the Fort Point Channel -- just a stone’s throw from where the Boston Tea Party actually occurred -- the museum brings you into the heart of the action. Hop aboard a faithful recreation of a colonial-era ship -- and throw tea crates overboard in defiance of King George III’s “taxation without representation” policy. Also get a first-hand look at Robinson Tea Chest, one of only 2 known tea chests still in existence from those monumental days in December 1773. Call 855-TEA-1773 for more info.

African Meeting House
Nearly 100 years after the colonists demanded their freedom, so did another group of people. See where the abolitionist movement found a voice: The African Meeting House in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood. It was here -- in the oldest African-American church edifice still standing in the US -- that the New England Anti-Slavery Society was founded and later, Frederick Douglass delivered an anti-slavery speech. Check out the museum’s many artifacts on display -- a journey from adversity to accomplishment that’s chronicled in items such as an 1848 bill of sale for an enslaved boy named Tom to works by African-American women sculptors. Call 617-725-0022 for info on guided tours of African Meeting House.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Take a stroll through the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and you’ll see why it ranks as one of the world’s most visited museums. The MFA’s collection of more than 450,000 artifacts and paintings spans nearly every major period and region -- from ancient to contemporary, from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. Amid this treasure trove, make time for the museum’s highlights, such as Renoir’s Dance at Bougival, van Gogh’s Portrait of the Postman and Winslow Homer’s The Fog Warning. For contemporary art lovers, check out 7 new collections, located in the Linde Family Wing of the MFA’s dramatic IM Pei-designed building. Be sure to check out the museum's Beauty as Duty exhibit, running through May 28. Call 617-267-9300 for more info.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Is your birthday coming up? Mark it with free admission to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; it’s a perk the museum offers on your special day. (And if your name is Isabella, enjoy free admission year-round.) You’ll have plenty to see and experience. In January 2012, the museum added a 70,000-square-foot wing. After checking out the museum’s mainstays -- from Vermeer’s The Concert to Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of the Galilee -- stop by the new wing for a little downtime. Enjoy classic American fare, from skirt steak salad to grilled cheese sandwiches, along with more eclectic choices, like spring turnip soup -- all overseen by chef-owner (and Culinary Institute of America grad) Peter Crowley. Call 617-566-1401 for info.

The Sports Museum
Sports and Boston go hand in hand. So swing by Boston’s Sports Museum, located in the heart of the multipurpose arena TD Garden. Get your picture taken with Larry Bird -- a life-size sculpture of the Boston Celtics great is one of many attractions you’ll find here. Also dive into the history of the Boston area’s top sports teams and events; you'll see exhibits on the Boston Bruins, New England Patriots, the Boston Marathon and the Boston Red Sox. Then be sure to stop by Fenway Park (less than 3 miles away) for a guided tour of the famed ballpark that turns 100 in 2012. Call 617-624-1235 for info on museum exhibits.

Museum of Science (Boston)
Ever wanted to search for shipwrecks and lost aircrafts? Or take a jaw-dropping roller coaster ride through the solar system? Take your pick from among 500 interactive exhibits at Boston’s Museum of Science. Enjoy a variety of simulator experiences, from an orbital journey around the International Space Station to a ride on history’s greatest flying machines -- including the supersonic fighter aircraft F-5 Tiger. Also get a first-hand look at cosmic collisions, fractal patterns that burst before your eyes, and a close-up view of Mars in the newly renovated Charles Hayden Planetarium -- the most technologically advanced digital theater in New England that comes equipped with full-dome video and audio systems. That means one thing: no boring science lesson here. Also, be sure to check out the interactive forum Are You a Sleep Slacker? on May 22. Call 617-723-2500 for info.

By the time your Boston trip is over, you’ll have seen it all -- from cosmic collisions to colonial-era days. It’s all in a day’s journey through Boston’s best museums.

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