10 Best Museums of Boston: Something for Everyone to Explore

Photo courtesy of Harvard Museum of Natural History
Photo courtesy of Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Photo courtesy of Jessica Polizzotti
Photo courtesy of Jessica Polizzotti
By Jessica Polizzotti, Boston Local Expert

Roam around Boston and enjoy the museums that are in every area. Explore the Seaport in conjunction with a visit to the ICA. While in the Back Bay make sure you visit the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Enjoy Fort Point Channel and check out the Children's Museum. Make your way to Harvard Square where the Museum of Natural History makes its home. Take in the sites of Cambridge then head the the Museum of Science.

Boston's mix of museums offer options that range from art to play making it necessary to devout more than just one day to sample the all that is offered inside. There's a little something for everyone at each of Boston's museums, and all you need is a ticket in to explore the offerings. 

For those who seek a real Boston experience from their museum visit, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum as well as the John F Kennedy Library And Museum let you make the most of your museum visit to see how Boston fits into the past, even as it becomes part of the present.

Take advantage of city discount passes to save a little money on admission to these museums that are more than just your average sites to be seen. 

10. Peabody Essex Museum

Upon entry into the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) you'll be stunned by its beauty. Along with galleries you can peek into art studios and the auditorium where the museum's collections include a compilation of contemporary pieces as well as historic pieces including those of American, Asian, Maritime, Oceanic, Native American, and African origin. Enjoy the art and culture, at the PEM and peruse the archival library. Be sure to check out the American and Chinese houses that have been recognized as some of the finest you'll find. With children in tow utilize the offerings of the museum to guide your way around and teach your kids about pieces within.

9. John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is dedicated "to all those who through the art of politics seek a new and better world." Highlighting the presidential endeavors of John F Kennedy, a Boston area native who had aspirations for the White House and succeeded in creating a family legacy of greatness that followed his children through their lives. The looming white structure, designed by I.M. Pei, overlooks Dorchester Bay and is set on 10 acres. The museum/gallery contains exhibits tracing Kennedy's career from the campaign trail to his tragic death. The library is also home to the renowned Earnest Hemingway research room, whose archives include original manuscripts, hand-written correspondence and photographs.

8. MIT Museum

Kids love to explore, and at the MIT Museum you are invited to do just that. Check out invention, ideas, and innovation at the interactive exhibitions, public programs, experimental projects and its renown collections found at the MIT Museum. Here your family will find inspiration in the world of science and technology. Home to a collection that has achieved world renowned status in the realm of science and technology, holography, architecture and design, and nautical engineering, the MIT Museum is like no other. Although the permanent exhibits are not hands on, you will find scheduled programs that allow more interaction (ideal for younger families with kids who just can't help but touch). The unusual and exciting findings at the MIT Museum include an exploding chair that puts itself back together, and even your shadow frozen in time.

7. Harvard Museum of Natural History
Photo courtesy of Harvard Museum of Natural History

Explore the natural world in the detailed exhibits that live at this Harvard University treasure. Examine animals, dinosaurs, fossils, stones, flowers and biology. Also enjoy insight into cultures, by region. A fantastic find for those who desire to learn more about Natural History. Kids go crazy for story time and love walking among the skeletons, fossils and other natural history alive inside this Cambridge museum. In addition to the museum itself, they offer many programs geared towards families. If you can't get your kids to leave, there's an on-site gift shop that sells themed trinkets to remember your trip, and a gift just might entice them out the doors.

6. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

View works of art by Rembrandt, Dante, Degas, Raphael and Michelangelo as well as the many others that are on display from the personal collection of Ms. Gardner. Once her home, it is more like a mansion than a museum. The art inside reflects Ms. Gardner's personal passion for Italian and Dutch artwork, and set-up as galleries that surround a central courtyard. A gorgeous place to spend a day. The Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum is also host to classes and concerts that draw locals who have a passion for art and music. These events are scheduled and the schedule is updated often.

5. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Photo courtesy of Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

It was not just one night that led patriots to take matters into their own hands to begin a fight for freedom, it was the continued lack of freedoms and representation that brought about the Tea Party and started a revolution. At the Tea Party Ships and Museum, you can relive the catalyst to the American Revolution and see memorabilia from the time and event. The museum holds insight into America's path to becoming a free country. The Tea Party Museum is a guided tour that will have you taking on a whole new persona, and enjoying being a part of the action, both on-board and inside the museum itself.

4. Boston Children's Museum
Photo courtesy of Jessica Polizzotti

The Boston Children's Museum is a local favorite. Exhibits focus on science, culture, environmental awareness, health & fitness, and the arts, and all encourage kids to interact (via touch). Many amazing adventures await at the Children's Museum; kids can climb the centrally located maze, blow big bubbles in the dedicated bubble room, build something solid in the construction zone, learn about culture, and even countdown to kindergarten in the make-shift classroom. The Boston Children's Museum also features the perfect place for the under 3 crowd, Playspace. This room comes complete with crawling structures, small-scale slides, cars to drive and even daily crafts. There is no doubt that kids will have fun here, but adults will also enjoy returning to childhood at the Boston Children's Museum.

3. Museum of Science
Photo courtesy of Jessica Polizzotti

Walk into the Museum of Science and come face to face with a life-sized dinosaur. Explore each and every last crook of the Museum of Science and encounter excitement from our past, present and even a glimpse into our future. Make math fun in their popular math room. Kids are amazed by the lightning show and love the freedom to move that this large space allows. Enjoy a show in the Planetarium or take a trip around the world in the Omni theater. Exhibits change often, making the Museum of Science a must see on each and every visit to Boston.

2. Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
Photo courtesy of }{enry

Roam the galleries or watch a show in a waterfront building that is as beautiful as what is housed inside. The modern art is an eclectic mix of what may sometimes seem to be mayhem. Funky fun displays rule the roost at this cutting edge art museum. Kids will marvel at the art inside because unlike traditional museums some of the stuff at the ICA looks more like stuff that's familiar. The ICA offers playdates every month that maximize your time inside. These days are designed to bring fun to art and the free family admission on these days includes hands-on art-making, performance, family gallery tours, and films. The ICA also has a fourth floor area designed for further exploration, ideal for non-playdate days.

1. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The MFA is one of the largest museums around. An entire day could be spent admiring the works, both ancient and modern, that live within these walls. Along with many amazing (and famous) paintings, the MFA offers visitors the chance to enjoy artifacts from around the world. Home to four dining venues, there is a choice for all tastes eliminating the need to exit throughout the day. The MFA hosts many unique events including lectures, music, films, art opportunities for kids, and even cocktail parties. The gift shops offer art inspired items that allows guests to reflect on their favorite parts of the museum.