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ICA Boston | © Stella Tran / Flickr
ICA Boston | © Stella Tran / Flickr

The Top 10 Museums to Visit in Boston

Picture of Ashley Kane
Freelance Writer
Updated: 30 January 2017

Boston has several museums located in the city that fit a variety of interests. Visitors can view collections of fine art from around the world, learn about science and watch a lightning show, or take in beautiful harbor views while looking at contemporary art.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The MFA is one of the largest museums in the United States. See art from around the world and explore collections that date back to the ancient world. Plan to spend a few hours here to experience all the museum has to offer. A ticket purchase also allows visitors to come back for free within a week; therefore, they can split up the exhibits over a few days if they are in town.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 267 9300

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The stunning Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was built to evoke a 15th-century Venetian Palace, and it does so successfully. The museum opened in 1917 and was Isabella Stewart Gardner’s life work – she believed the young country was in great need of art. View paintings, rare books, drawings, furniture, and more from ancient Rome, Asia, Medieval Europe, and Renaissance Italy, and be sure to stop at the picturesque courtyard.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 566 1401

Courtyard & garden | © Sean Dungan/Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Courtyard & garden | © Sean Dungan / Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Boston Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum is the number one stop for families with young children. Let them explore the kid-friendly play spaces, see Arthur and friends, or create artwork in the art studio. The museum also has seasonal attractions, such as sock skating, and even hosts occasional “Boston Grown-Ups Museum” nights.

Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 426 6500

Museum of Science

The Museum of Science is another ideal option for both children and adults. Learn something new as you wander through the interactive exhibits, or watch an IMAX film. Check out the Butterfly Garden, Cosmic Light exhibition, and the very popular Science in the Park room.

Museum of Science, 1 Science Park, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 723 2500

Institute of Contemporary Art

The ICA is an architecturally unique waterfront museum. Located on the Boston Harbor, the museum’s modern design offers gorgeous views from inside. Within the venue, you can see the work of leading contemporary artists, as well as emerging artists and new commissions. The beautiful outdoor seating space behind the museum often hosts events and musical or dance performances.

Institute of Contemporary Art, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 478 3100

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The JFK Presidential Library and Museum is dedicated to the United States’ 35th president and those interested in making change through politics. View exhibits that range from JFK’s Campaign Trail to the Space Race and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s life.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Columbia Point, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 514 1600

Harvard Museum of Natural History

The Harvard Museum of Natural History is both comprehensive and intimate. View exhibits about mammals, extinction and evolution, and marine life. Be sure to check out the treasured Glass Flowers exhibit that features the internationally acclaimed Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, complete with over 4,000 models that represent 830 plant species.

Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA, USA, +1 617 495 3045

Old State House

The Old State House museum allows you to experience the Revolutionary Era through its collection of artifacts. View historical documents, maps, and newspapers, and enjoy the Old State House itself. See the floating spiral staircase, John Hancock’s coat, and the Council Chamber.

Old State House, 206 Washington St, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 720 1713

USS Constitution Museum

Located at the Charlestown Navy Yard in a restored shipyard building near the USS Constitution boat, the USS Constitution Museum is the last stop on the Freedom Trail. Learn about the boat’s story, the people who designed and sailed her, as well as her influential role in the War of 1812.

USS Constitution Museum, Building 22, Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown, MA, USA, +1 617 426 1812

MIT Museum

The MIT Museum features artifacts, photographs, and instruments that highlight MIT’s innovation in science and technology over the past decades. See the world’s largest holography collection, with over 2,000 holograms, and check out the exhibits on architecture and naval engineering.

MIT Museum, 265 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA, USA, +1 617 253 5927