Museums of Boston and Cambridge

Museums around Harvard

Harvard University Museums of Natural History, 617-495-3045
26 Oxford St., Cambridge, T-Stop: Harvard
Hrs: daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

(The Harvard Museum of Natural History is the public museum of Harvard University’s three natural history institutions, which includes: the Botanical Museum; the Museum of Comparative Zoology; and the Mineralogical and Geological Museum.)

The Botanical Museum houses the spectacular Ware Collection of Glass Models of Plants. Among the rare specimens at The Museum of Comparative Zoology, which shows how animals evolved, are whale skeletons, the largest turtle shell ever found, the Harvard mastodon and George Washington’s pheasants. The exhibits at the Mineralogical and Geological Museums feature a comprehensive collection of gems, minerals, ores and meteorites.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, 617-496-1027
11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge T-Stop: Harvard
Hrs: Open daily: 9am-5pm

The Peabody Museum is the oldest museum in the world devoted to anthropology and houses one of the most comprehensive collections of human cultural history in the Western Hemisphere. The largest collections focus on North, Central and South American Indian cultures.

Harvard University Art Museums

Fogg Art Museum and
Busch-Reisinger Museum, 617-495-9400
32 Quincy St., Cambridge T: Harvard
Hrs: Mon-Sat: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun: 1-5 p.m.

The Fogg specializes in the art of Europe and North America with masterpieces by Giotto, Fra Angelico, Rembrandt, Monet, Renoir, Picasso and Van Gogh; sculpture by Rodin; and an outstanding group of twentieth-century photographs. The Busch-Reisinger boasts a major collection of German Expressionist art including pieces by Klee, Kandinsky and Nolde as well as important works of Constructivism, Vienna Secession and Bauhaus.

Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 617-495-9400
485 Broadway St., Cambridge T: Harvard
Hrs: Mon-Sat: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun: 1-5 p.m.

At the Sackler, visitors can feast on the world’s most important collection of ancient Chinese jades, Korean ceramics and Chinese cave temple paintings and sculpture, Greek and Roman sculpture and vases and ancient coins.

The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, 617-495-2779
Science Center, T: Harvard
1 Oxford St., Cambridge
Hrs: Tues-Fri: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. during
academic year

Because of the teaching nature of this collection, please call ahead for closings and information on traveling exhibits. The Collection brings to life the history of instrumentation and provides insight into many inventions, discoveries and developments in the history of science and technology.

The Semitic Museum, 617-495-4631
6 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge T: Harvard

Hrs: Mon-Fri: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun: 1-4 p.m.; The museum is devoted to the archaeology of the ancient Near East. It pioneered U.S. scientific excavations in the Holy Land at Samaria in 1907-1912, and led important explorations at Nuzi and in the Sinai which uncovered the earliest known alphabet. Its mission is to “promote sound knowledge of Semitic languages and history.”

Museums Around Boston

Children’s Museum, 617-426-8855
300 Congress St., Museum Wharf,
Boston T: South Station Hrs: Sun-Sat: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

A fun place for adults as well as children, featuring tons of hands-on exhibits. Tinker with tools and toys. Blow five-foot bubbles. Tune up a car. Have a ball. Admission $7 adults, $6 children (2-11), $2 (under age 2), Friday nights (5-9pm) only $1 per person.

Institute of Contemporary Art , 617-266-5152
955 Boylston St., Boston T: Hynes/ICA
Hrs: Wed & Fri: 12-5 p.m.; Thur: 12-9 p.m.; Sat. & Sun.: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Housed in a 19th century police station, the ICA features three floors of temporary exhibits (they change every few months) by current artists. Exhibitions have ranged from Elvis and Marilyn to the Holocaust. Admission $6 adults, $4 students and seniors, Thursday evenings (after 5pm) are free.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 617-566-1401
280 The Fenway, Boston T: Museum

This stately mansion, once home to Mrs. Gardner, an avid 19th-century art collector, boasts three floors of galleries filled with Rembrandts, Tintorettos, Monets, Botticellis, Whistlers and Corot. The galleries open onto a beautiful courtyard filled with flowering plants. Stay for a weekend concert at 1:30 pm from September through May. Admission $10 adults, $7 seniors, $5 students, children under 18 free.

Museum of Fine Arts, 617-267-9300
465 Huntington Ave., Boston T: Museum
Hrs: Mon-Tues: 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; Wed-Fri: 10 a.m.- 9:45 p.m.; Sat-Sun: 10 a.m.-5:45 p.m.

Absolutely one of the world’s great art museums with masterpieces from around the globe and from the early civilizations of ancient Egypt to the art of today. Especially impressive are the collections of Impressionist paintings, decorative art and sculpture, classical artifacts, Asiatic art and American paintings. Go on a sunny day when you can enjoy the Tenshin Garden, directly outside the museum. Admission $12 adults, $10 students and seniors, $5 children on schooldays, other days free, Thursday and Friday evenings $2 off.

Both the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts are located on Fens Park (or the Fens), designed by legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The Fens is a lovely, tranquil 12-acre marshy park with footbridges, pools, rose gardens and rows of magnolias. A delightful scene for a post-museum respite.

Museum of Afro-American History , 617-725-0022
Joy St. and Smith Court in Beacon Hill, Boston
T: Charles-MGH/Park
Hrs: Mon-Fri: 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.; Summers only: Mon-Sun: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

A visit here to view art and artifacts illustrating African-American history will also bring you to the African Meeting House, the oldest black church in the country, and the site of speeches by Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. The 1.6 mile “Black Heritage Trail” commences here, encompassing the largest collection of historic sites in the country relating to the life of a free African American community prior to the Civil War. Admission Donation suggested.

Museum of Science/Charles Hayden
Planetarium/Omni Theater, 617-723-2500
Science Park, Boston T: Science Park
Hrs: Sat-Thurs: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.;
Fri: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

You could easily spend a whole day fiddling with the 400 interactive exhibits, checking out Computer Discovery Space or heading for outer space in the Planetarium. Admission $10 adults, $7 students.

The Sports Museum of New England 617-787-7678
Fleet Center, Boston T: North Station
Hrs: Tue-Sat: 10-5 p.m.; Sun: 12-6 p.m.
Hrs: Call for weekly hours (subject to events at the Fleet Center)

If you’re a sports junkie, this museum will keep you busy and involved with its many interactive exhibits, computers, videos and sport memories. They cover it all from baseball to rugby to candlepin bowling. Admission $5 adults, $4 children and seniors.