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Boston's Hidden Museum Gems

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, April 27, 2018

Boston has many well know museums, like The Museum of Science, The Museum of Fine Arts, or the Boston Children's Museum, just to name a few. What a lot of people don't know is that the Boston area has a ton of other lesser-known museums, that are just as interesting as those that are more commonly frequented. What most people also don't know is that many of these museums are free or discounted for students. If you have visited many of the more popular or "touristy" museums in Boston and want something new, check out one of these "hidden-gem" museums in the city.


Museum of African American History

The Museum of African American History contains some of the most important historical landmarks and acts as an important memorial to African American History in New England. The Museum's Boston location includes the Abiel Smith School and African Meeting House, located in Boston's Beacon Hill, a historically African American neighborhood in the 19th century. The African Meeting House has undergone historic restoration, returning the building to its 1855 appearance. The building was once a church, school, and community meeting place. The Abiel Smith school is the oldest surviving public school in the United States that was built for the purpose of educating African American children.  The Museum also conducts walking tours of the African American History Trail, which encompasses historic sites that depict life in Boston for free African Americans before the civil war. The MAAH contains some of the most important historical landmarks in the nation and acts as an important memorial to African American History in New England.

The Museum of Bad Art

While most art museums are dedicated to celebrated works of art, The Museum of Bad Art is dedicated to art that is exceptionally bad. This unconventional museum, located beneath the Somerville Theater, contains a collection of art that is "so bad its good." Some of the pieces are less appealing works of normally talented artists, whereas others have been created by "amateurs". The museum is great because it displays works that would never be hung in traditional galleries. The museum celebrates and honors the labor and creativity of artists whose work would otherwise go unappreciated or unseen. Admission to the museum is free with the purchase of a movie pass to the theater, however free passes can also be requested on the MoBA website if you want to skip the film.

The Gibson House Museum

The Gibson House was one of the first homes to be built in Back Bay. The Museum provides an inside look into a 19th century Victorian row house in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood. The home, occupied for three generations by the Gibson's, a wealthy Bostonian family, has been preserved in its original 1860 style. The Museum collection includes original wallpaper, textiles, furniture, and family artifacts.  

The Boston Fire Museum

The mission of The Boston Fire Museum is to "preserve and display the fire fighting memorabilia from the Greater Boston area" while educating the public on fire safety and supporting fire fighters in general.  The Museum, which is housed in the old firehouse at 344 Congress Street in Boston's Seaport district, includes fire fighting artifacts such as alarms, equipment, antique fire apparatus and photographs. One of the most interesting exhibits at the Museum is the display of old fire trucks from the 18th and 19th centuries. Admission to the Fire Museum is free.


Warren Anatomical Museum

The Warren Anatomical Museum, located at Harvard Medical School, is one of the last surviving anatomy and pathology museums associated with a medical school. The Museum contains artifacts of health science, that in combination, detail the history of the profession. One of the more famous exhibits is the skull of Phineas Gage. The story of Phineas Gage is well known in the medical community as it informed much of what we know today about the brain and the way it functions. Phineas Gage survived an injury in which a metal rod was pierced through his skull and he was still able to function, though noticeable changes in his personality occurred after.


The Commonwealth Museum

The Commonwealth Museum is located near the more well -known JFK Library, and contains everything you would ever want to know about Massachusetts. The Museum's exhibit includes documents on the Pilgrims, dating from 1603, as well as letters from Governor John Winthrop, papers from Vice President John Adams, and records of the Sacco and Vanzetti case. Other popular artifacts include Paul Revere's copper plate depicting the Boston Massacre, The written charter given by Charles I to John Winthrop when he sailed from England to establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony, as well as Massachusetts' copy of The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition to the trove of documents, the Museum also has many interactive exhibits that are interesting for kids as well as adults. Entry into the museum is free.


Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House

Further away from Boston, but still accessible by the Commuter Rail's Fitchburg Line, is Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, the home where Louisa May Alcott wrote and set her famous novel "Little Women," a story modeled off of events and characters in the author's own life. Upon visiting the Alcott's home visitors can tour the house as well as learn about the family and items in the home that were significant to them. The home has been well preserved since it was lived in by the Alcott family. While you are in the area, you may want to also visit the nearby Walden Pond Reservation, a place made famous by Henry David Thoreau's Walden.

Lesser-Known Tip: Free Museums for Bank of America Card Holders

If you are a Bank of America card holder, as many of our international visitors are, you can receive free admission to many popular Massachusetts museums during the first full weekend of every month.  You can find a list of qualifying museums here.

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