Planning a vacation to Boston? Our insiders put together a list of our top Boston museums that you should consider adding to your itinerary.
Boston and its surrounding towns are home to a surplus of museums celebrated throughout the world, offering the best of the city’s rich history, scientific discovery, and contributions to art.
We put together a list of some popular Boston museums that you should consider visiting during your trip.
Want Passes to Top Boston Museums?
Admission to a number of these museums are included on the Go Boston® Card.
Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
A few of the museums available on the Go Boston Card include…
- Museum of Science
- Museum of Fine Arts
- Boston Children’s Museum
- Institute of Contemporary Art
- MIT Museum
Museum of Science
Fitting to Boston, the city’s most-visited attraction is a place where science and technology come to life. Over 700 interactive exhibits with hands-on activities offer the opportunity for fun and learning for visitors of all ages.
Get an up-close look at the first space capsule, take a virtual tour of Acadia National Park, watch lightning strike right before your eyes, and so much more!
The museum also features an IMAX Dome, Hayden Planetarium, and the brand new Hall of Human Life. Dine at one of six on-site eating establishments to conclude your visit.
Museum of Fine Arts
The MFA of Boston is one of the world’s most impressive collections of fine art. The grand MFA building houses more than 450,000 pieces of art from all over the world.
The new “Art of the Americas” wing features a spectacular display of 53 galleries dedicated to art from the Pre-Columbian era through the twentieth century.
Ever-changing temporary exhibits focus on specific themes, from wood sculptures to Japanese tea-bowls. Boston’s MFA is a must-see attraction for art enthusiasts of all levels.
Boston Children’s Museum
The Boston Children’s Museum is the second oldest children’s museum in the world and was founded by a group dedicated to providing new resources for both teachers and students to advance the exchange of materials and ideas to further science education.
Visitors will enjoy engaging hands-on exhibits and learning through experience. Each exhibit focuses on a variety of enriching subjects including science, culture, environmental awareness, health and fitness, and the arts.
Institute of Contemporary Art
For a multi-sensory exploration of cutting-edge art, visit the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA).
The ICA brings the most significant national and international contemporary art to Boston in its visionary building that boasts a beautiful waterfront view.
Exhibits are designed to engage visitors in the creative process through visual interaction and artistic dialogue.
The site is also home to a performing arts theater, media center, bookstore, and café all designed to enhance visitors’ appreciation of this landmark building.
Getting in: Institute of Contemporary Art tickets are included on the Go Boston Card All-Inclusive Pass.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
This museum of international art is where the largest art heist in history took place over 20 years ago when several Vermeer and Rembrandt pieces were stolen from it.
Despite the great loss, the museum still has plenty to offer being home to one of the most comprehensive private art collections.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner’s collection includes over 2,500 masterpieces including pieces by Michelangelo, Degas, Sargent, Monet, Botticelli, and more, curated and displayed according to Ms. Gardner’s unique vision.
In addition to its great works of art, visitors will also enjoy the beautiful architecture and Venetian style courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Getting in: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum tickets are included on the Go Boston Card All-Inclusive Pass.
Mary Baker Eddy Library & Mapparium
Walk across a 30-foot bridge that takes you through the ‘world famous,’ three-story, painted glass globe.
You’ll learn all about the fascinating life of Mary baker Eddy, an entrepreneur, teacher, businesswoman, and religious leader. Among the museum’s interactive exhibits and historic artifacts, you’ll get to see a rare 1611 edition of the King James Bible, the Quest Gallery, The Hall of Ideas, and more.
Getting in: Mary Baker Eddy Library & Mapparium tickets are included on the Go Boston Card All-Inclusive Pass.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
The nation’s memorial to President John F. Kennedy is housed in a magnificent building on a 10-acre waterfront site on Columbia Point.
Twenty-five multimedia exhibits and period settings from the White House will make you feel like you’ve traveled to the early ’60s in the shoes of Kennedy himself.
Sit at JFK’s Oval Office desk as you discover a fascinating account of Kennedy’s days in office. Panoramic views of Boston’s skyline and Harbor Islands add to the appeal of this must-see Boston attraction.
Getting in: JFK Presidential Library & Museum tickets are included on the Go Boston Card All-Inclusive Pass.
Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate
For those interested in the Senator Kennedy’s legacy or the history of the United States Senate in general, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute is an ideal destination.
A diverse series of special and permanent exhibits awaits visitors to this stellar institution.
One the most popular exhibits is the “Issue of the Day,” which showcases just one of the many issues concerning the U.S. Senate on a given day.
There are also exhibits highlighting the role and history of the Senate, how a bill becomes a law, and a reproduction of Senator Kennedy’s office.
Getting in: Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate tickets are included on the Go Boston Card All-Inclusive Pass.
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Discovery starts here with three museums in one: Comparative Zoology, the Herbaria, and the Mineralogical and Geological Museums combine to form Harvard’s most-visited attraction.
A few highlights include: the 16,000-pound amethyst geode, the 15-foot-long ground sloth, and dozens of fossil displays.
Get ready for a unique learning experience and lots of surprises at this museum, conveniently located on the campus of one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Getting in: Harvard Museum of Natural History tickets are included on the Go Boston Card All-Inclusive Pass.
The best place to interact with some of world’s most cutting edge technology is right where it’s created, at the MIT Museum.
Visitors will enjoy interacting with the unique blend of art, science, and technology; including current research and projects that keeps MIT at the forefront of the industry.
Explore artificial intelligence, robots, holography, and take a look at preserved artifacts and discover a new appreciation for MIT’s role in the history of modern science.
Salem Witch Museum
Travel back to 1692 in Salem Village to experience the hysteria of what came to be known as the infamous Massachusetts “witch hunt”.
Discover why 180 people were accused and imprisoned or punished for witchcraft and learn how the word “witch” evolved.
You’ll explore the associations that led to the stereotypical witch perception and visit all of the sites where witches were alleged to have existed.
For a truly haunting experience, explore the museum and historic town at Halloween! Don’t forget to stop in the museum’s store to pick-up some unique souvenirs.
Peabody Essex Museum
As one of New England’s largest museums, the Peabody Essex houses one million artifacts of art and culture that span centuries and continents.
The museum dates all the way back to 1799, when sea captains would bring home treasures from exotic lands.
It has one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of maritime and oceanic art and artifacts, in addition to African, American, Asian, Native American, and Indian collections.
Inside the museum, you’ll also find special exhibitions, a hands-on education center, an award-winning gift shop, and a café and restaurant. Outside, see numerous parks, period gardens, and historic houses.
Peabody Museum of Archaeology
Visit one of the finest collections of human cultural history at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, one of the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world.
From towering Native American totem poles and large Maya sculptures to precious artifacts of the ancient world, visitors will find a new understanding of cultures from around the world.
The Otis House Museum
The Otis House, built in 1796, is the last surviving mansion in Bowdoin Square in Boston’s historic West End neighborhood.
Designed by famed architect Charles Bulfinch for Harrison Gray Otis, a lawyer who served in congress and as mayor of Boston, the Otis House is an excellent representation of classical proportions and the delicate detail of Federal style architecture.
The Otis House Museum, meticulously restored, provides insights into social, business, family life, and the role played by household servants at the turn of the 18th century and currently serves as the headquarters for Historic New England and its library and archives.
Paul Revere House
Visit a National Historic Landmark and the home that once belonged to Paul Revere, a silversmith by trade, and a legendary American hero by reputation.
You’ll get to learn all about Paul Revere, his famous “Midnight Ride,” the rich history of the home itself and various renovations it has undergone over the years, and more.
Getting in: Paul Revere House tickets are included on the Go Boston Card All-Inclusive Pass.
Old State HouseVisit the site of the Boston Massacre, located right in downtown Boston along the Freedom Trail, and learn all about the integral role the Old State House played in the Revolutionary War.
You’ll get to see lots of Revolution-era artifacts, including ammunition for battles, John Hancock’s lavish red velvet coat, and even tea salvaged from the Boston Tea Party, among others.
Getting in: Old State House tickets are included on the Go Boston Card All-Inclusive Pass.
This museum is the gateway to Concord’s remarkable revolutionary and literary history, home to one of the oldest and most treasured collections of Americana in the nation.
On exhibit, you’ll discover one of the lanterns hung in the Old North Church on April 18, 1775, the desk on which Henry D. Thoreau wrote “Walden”, and the studies of American transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Collections also include decorative arts, furniture, clock, look-glasses, textiles, and more. For Colonial history, this is the museum to visit.
Getting in: Concord Museum tickets are included on the Go Boston Card All-Inclusive Pass.
John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum
The JFK Hyannis Museum Foundation preserves and promotes the legacy of President Kennedy, his family, and their connection to Cape Cod.
The museum features videos and photographs spanning the years 1934 – 1963 and are arranged thematically giving visitors an inside look at the connection JFK and his family had to the Cape.
Getting in: JFK Hyannis Museum tickets are included on the Go Boston Card All-Inclusive Pass.
Ok, technically not what you might consider a ‘museum,’ but this is arguably one of Boston’s most important cultural institutions. Plus, a tour of Fenway Park does walk you through some iconic moments of baseball history.
It doesn’t take a baseball fan to appreciate the importance of Fenway Park to not just Boston, but baseball in general. See where Babe Ruth pitched, Ted Williams hit, and Carl Yastrzemski led an amazing career in “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.”
Getting in: Fenway Park Tour tickets are included on the Go Boston Card All-Inclusive Pass.
Remember to Save on Museum Admission
Our list of some of the most popular museums in Boston.
Remember, many (if not all) of these options are included on the Go Boston Card, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.