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Cultural Museums in Massachusetts
World-renowned art, photographs, exhibits; artifacts, sculpture, and historic encounters can all be seen on display throughout the many museums in Massachusetts. From the Berkshires to Cape Cod, explore and discover showcased masterpieces sprinkled all over the state. Visit the Salem Witch Museum, for a look back at the famed witch trials. Tour the New Bedford Whaling Museum to explore whaling ships from its time, which inspired Moby Dick. The remarkable Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) and the Norman Rockwell Museum chronicle American life and its artists, while the Boston Museum of Fine Arts has one of the world's largest impressionist collections in the world. Get up-close and personal with aquatic animals and marine life at the New England Aquarium, or take the kids to the Boston Children’s Museum for hands-on engagement and learning through interactive activities, experiences and exploration in play. Journey over to Plimoth Plantation and explore this living museum based on the lives of English colonists who first settled at Plymouth Colony in the 17th century.
Founded in 1886, the Concord Museum is an ideal destination for those who enjoy the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau – both noted authors area highly featured at the museum. Also among the displayed artifacts are powder horns, muskets, fifes, and cannonballs from the American Revolution. The Concord Museum is open on a daily basis, minus any major holiday, and a small admission fee is charged.
Massachusetts is a hot bed when it comes to American Revolution and early American history – there are a slew of landmarks, memorials, and parks celebrating or commemorating that time in history. Many visitors who travel to Concord also enjoy a drive across the Old North Bridge, touring the Louisa May Alcott Orchard House, or summer recreation at the Walden Pond. Enjoy your time in MA and visit the Concord Museum.
Visit the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard – a short, scenic drive from Concord and Chelmsford. The Fruitlands Museum is a collection of historic buildings and structures – once a site of a proposed utopian community, led by Amos Bronson Alcott. Be sure to tour the Fruitlands Farmhouse, fully restored to resemble how it looked in the 1840s. Any visit into Massachusetts should be met with some time at the Fruitlands Museum.
In 1910, the property was purchased by Clara Endicott Sears. She would later, in 1914, open the farmhouse as a museum for public viewing. Comprising nearly 90 acres, the Fruitlands is named, almost ironically, because of a small batch of apple trees on the grounds. You'll have a wide range of historic landmarks to check out on your next trip into MA – be sure to visit the Fruitlands Museum.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a premier destination in Boston for travelers seeking historic sites. As a philanthropist and art collector, Isabella Stewart Gardner established the museum in 1903 with a grand opening performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a block southwest of the Museum of Fine Arts, and across the street from Evans Way Park.
The design of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was to emulate the Venetian Palazzo Barbaro. On your visit into Boston, set aside some time to explore the Isabella Stewart Gernder Museum – open for business year round, minus any major holidays and Tuesdays. You'll certainly want to check out some of the permanent art displays, like the Death and the Assumption of the Virgin found in the Early Italian Room. Don't miss the Gothic Room where you'll spot the Portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner.
Enjoy a unique experience on your next visit to Plymouth. As you explore the Massachusetts coast, head for the State Pier and check out the Mayflower II. A replica of the original Mayflower – the ship responsible for hauling the pilgrims over to the "New World" – Mayflower II construction was completed in 1956 in Devon, England. It was then sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in an effort to re-create the original voyage embarked upon by the Mayflower. It was July, 1957 when Mayflower II made it's landing in NY. It was 2013 when Mayflower II found it's current home on the coast of Plymouth.
Now a museum and popular attraction, the Mayflower II is a near exact reproduction of the original – solid oak, tarred hemp rigging, and hand-colored maps give you a real sense of what it was like to sail the high seas on a ship originally built in the 1600s. You'll encounter a wide range of Mayflower II crew members, fully dressed in the traditional garb.
Museum of Fine Arts - Boston
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is an ideal destination for any traveler looking for a collection of some of the worlds most highly regarded art. With over 450,000 pieces in its collection, the Museum of Fine Arts will no doubt keep you busy and on your toes when you visit. Make your next trip into the eastern half of Massachusetts a memorable one and visit the Museum of Fine Arts.
Though it was founded in 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts didn't move into its current location, southwest of downtown Boston, until 1909. The Museum of Fine Arts is just across from the Muddy River, and only a block northeast from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On your tour of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, be sure to check out the Portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart or The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit by John Sargent – two of the finest pantings in the collection. There are also a number different Egyptian sculptures and statues to view.
Norman Rockwell Museum
On your next visit to western Massachusetts, explore and celebrate the life and work of famed artist Normal Rockwell. Head to Stockbridge which is less than 15 miles south of Pittsfield, and explore the Normal Rockwell Museum. Noted as the home of the largest collection of Rockwell originals (998 in total), the Normal Rockwell Museum was founded in 1969 and is a very popular destination for art lovers who visit MA.
The Normal Rockwell Museum is open daily, minus any major holidays. When you tour the museum, be sure to explore Rockwell's historic Stockbridge Studio – open more seasonally from mid-May through mid-November. Sadly, no flash photography is permitted. The next time you visit western MA and are looking for a fun afternoon centered around a legendary American artist, make your way to the Normal Rockwell Museum.
Pilgrim Hall Museum
Found just inland of the Plymouth Harbor, the Pilgrim Hall Museum is an ideal way to learn about the original pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Opened in 1824, and noted as being the oldest public museum in continuos operation, the Pilgrim Hall Museum is a staple of Plymouth's history. Your next visit to Massachusetts and the Plymouth area should yield a trip to the Pilgrim Hall Museum.
When you tour the Pilgrim Hall Museum you'll have viewing access to a slew of relics, artifacts, and artwork all pertaining to the earliest of American history. You can check out the original Brewster Chair and the only known portrait of Edward Winslow. The Pilgrim Hall Museum does offer guided tours for larger groups, but those must be reserved ahead of time. It's open to the public seven days a week but for the month of January when they close – it is even open on Thanksgiving Day.
Visit Massachusetts soon and head for Plymouth, home of the Plimoth Plantation. Enjoy exploring this living museum near the coast. Any visit to Plymouth, a short drive south of Rockland, should yield a trip to the Plimoth Plantation. Enjoy a unique insight into the lives of English colonists who first settled at Plymouth Colony in the 17th century. They would later become known as Pilgrims.
As you explore the Plimoth Plantation, be sure to check out the Nye Barn – you won't want to miss out on historical breeds of equine. You'll also be able to visit the cinema on the grounds of the Plimoth Plantation for education videos about the history and culture of the plantation and its original settlers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson House
Adjacent to the Concord Museum, the Ralph Waldo Emerson House operates as a museum from April through October, closing for the winter months. The Ralph Waldo Emerson House is a National Historic Landmark, making it an ideal destination on your next visit to Massachusetts and Concord. The house is two stories, with a classic four-square design.
Built in 1828 and nicknamed "Coolidge Castle," Emerson moved into the house in 1935 when he married Lydia Jackson. On your tour of the Ralph Waldo Emerson House, you'll have the privilege of seeing the furnishing as they were when Emerson, himself, lived in the house. However, much of his personal book collection is now on display at the Concord Museum.
Open to the public from May through October, The Mount is an estate-museum located within the Berkshires near Pittsfield in western Massachusetts. Built in 1902, The Mount is the former home of American author Edith Wharton – she actually designed the house and grounds. It's worth noting the grounds surrounding the house stay open from November through May.
In November of 1971, The Mount was added to the National Register of Historic Places and as a National Historic Landmark. The Mount is available to be rented for parties, balls, weddings, and other ceremony-type events. Edith Wharton is the noted author of The Touchstone, The House of Mirth, and Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Age of Innocence. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928, and 1930.