Best museums in Boston that are worth your time

From iconic art collections to accounts of the city’s major role in US history, this round of the best museums in Boston covers it all.

One of the oldest cities in America, Boston rich history means it is packed with stories. The city’s amazing art museums tell it in all its forms, from the Boston Tea Party to art history and even sporting prowess. Its art museums are some of the most influential in the world, never mind New England.

If you’re visiting Boston with kids, the Childrens Museum and the Harvard Museum of Natural History have plenty to entertain young minds. There are a few surprising hidden gems to discover too, like the Museum of Bad Art and the Fenway Park Living Museum — a must for sports fans at the home of the Red Sox. This guide wraps up 15 of the best museums in Boston to add to your itinerary.

Best history museums in Boston

1_-_BCC-2023-BEST-MUSEUMS-IN-BOSTON-1-1x1.webp

1. Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Boston was at the heart of the American Independence movement and is often referred to as the Cradle of Liberty. This museum lets you relive one of America's most famous chapters with a tour unlike any other.

Highlights:

With a Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum interactive tour, you can mingle with live reenactors. Explore two ship replicas and interact with 3D holograms as you explore one of the most important eras in American history.

Address and opening hours:

306 Congress St, Boston. Open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, Monday to Sunday.

2_-_BCC-2023-BEST-MUSEUMS-IN-BOSTON-2-1x1.webp

2. Plimoth Patuxet Living History Museums

At this living history museum, you'll learn the story of the first English settlers in Massachusetts and the Native peoples who've called this land home for millennia.

Highlights:

There are plenty of first-rate exhibits at the Plimoth Patuxet Living History Museums. Explore a painstakingly-recreated 17th-century English village, the story of the Mayflower's crossing, and much more.

Address and opening hours:

137 Warren Ave, Plymouth. Open 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, Monday to Sunday.

3_-_BCC-2023-BEST-MUSEUMS-IN-BOSTON-3-1x1.webp

3. Old State House

One of the most important stops along Boston's Freedom Trail, this building was once the site of the city's bloodiest moments, the Boston Massacre. Today, it's a shrine to artworks and artifacts exploring the city's contribution to America's march to independence.

Highlights:

A Old State House and Old South Meeting House entry ticket gives you access to some of the oldest pieces of art in the city and the room where the Declaration of Independence was read in 1776.

Address and opening hours:

206 Washington St, Boston. Open daily, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.

Best art museums in Boston

4_-_BCC-2023-BEST-MUSEUMS-IN-BOSTON-4-1x1.webp

4. Museum of Fine Arts

This museum is the oldest and largest of its kind in Boston. Today, it houses around half a million pieces of art, including artifacts from Ancient Egypt, works from Native American peoples, and signature pieces from the giants of the Impressionist movement.

Highlights:

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has portraits of some of Boston's most celebrated sons, including one of Paul Revere painted by John Singleton Copley. There are also stunning landscapes of early Boston by famous artists, including Nathanial Dearborn and Fitz Henry Lane.

Address and opening hours:

465 Huntington Ave, Boston. Open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM Saturday to Monday, 10:00 AM-10:00 PM Wednesday, 10:00 AM-10:00 PM Thursday to Friday. Closed Tuesdays.

5. MassArt Art Museum

This contemporary arts venue has become one of Boston's most beloved cultural attractions, offering visitors the chance to get up close with multimedia installations from some of the most exciting artistic talents working today.

Highlights:

The MassArt Art Museum has an ever-changing list of exhibitions to enjoy. Take a break from portraiture and embrace multisensory experiences and discover a new way to learn about the political heritage of the city.

Address and opening hours:

621 Huntington Ave, Boston. Open Thursday to Sunday. Opening times vary.

6_-_BCC-2023-BEST-MUSEUMS-IN-BOSTON-6-1x1.webp

6. Institute of Contemporary Art

The Boston Museum of Modern Art is one of the largest exhibition spaces in Boston and serves as an introduction to emerging artists.

Highlights:

If you're planning on visiting the Institute of Contemporary Art on busier days, avoid the crowds by heading to the ICA Watershed first.

Address and opening hours:

25 Harbor Shore Dr, Boston. Open Monday to Sunday, opening times vary.

Best design museums in Boston

7_-_BCC-2023-BEST-MUSEUMS-IN-BOSTON-7-1x1.webp

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This Massachusetts Institute of Technology was established in 1971. Here, you'll find an eclectic selection of exhibits, ranging from one of the largest collections of slide rules in the world to a permanent gallery of kinetic artworks.

Highlights:

MIT is one of the best museums in the Boston area for anyone with an interest in technology and design. Today, the MIT Museum boasts a record-breaking holography museum, exhibitions dedicated to the emergence of artificial intelligence, robotics, and more.

Address and opening hours:

77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge. Open 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, Monday to Friday.

8_-_BCC-2023-BEST-MUSEUMS-IN-BOSTON-8-1x1.webp

8. Fuller Craft Museum

This craft museum is one of the largest of its kind in the United States. It houses craft-related exhibitions from all over the world. Inside, you'll find everything from ceramics and jewelry to textiles and furniture on display.

Highlights:

The Fuller Craft Museum is an architectural marvel in its own right. Designed by J. Timothy Anderson & Associates, this stunning venue boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and incorporates natural materials from the surrounding area. If you want to create your own craft masterpieces, there are plenty of workshops available.

Address and opening hours:

455 Oak St, Brockton. Open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, Monday to Sunday.

9_-_BCC-2023-BEST-MUSEUMS-IN-BOSTON-9-1x1.webp

9. Peabody Essex Museum

This historic museum contains some of the oldest exhibitions in the country. The museum holds more than 1.3 million pieces of art sourced from every corner of the world.

Highlights:

At the Peabody Essex Museum, you'll find a staggering collection of American art, covering everything from folk art to antique furniture. It's also home to the largest photography collection in the world, with more than 850,000 images in its inventory.

Address and opening hours:

161 Essex St, Salem. Open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, Thursday to Monday. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Best science museums in Boston

10_-_BCC-2023-BEST-MUSEUMS-IN-BOSTON-10-1x1.webp

10. Museum of Science 

Enquiring minds will love the exhibits at this sprawling museum. This indoor zoo and science museum boasts more than 700 interactive exhibits, along with traditional displays and live presentations held daily.

Highlights:

Looking to get the most out of your visit to the Museum of Science, Boston? Make sure you visit the Mugar Omni Theater. It's one of the only domed IMAX theaters in the country, making it the best screen for viewing the historical archives and nature documentaries regularly on show here.

Address and opening hours:

Museum Of Science Driveway, Boston. Open 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, Sunday to Thursday. Open 9:00 AM-9:00 PM, Friday.

11_-_BCC-2023-BEST-MUSEUMS-IN-BOSTON-11-1x1.webp

11. Harvard Museum of Natural History

This attraction is made up of three different natural history museums and 16 galleries, with everything from meteorites and minerals to dinosaur fossils on display.

Highlights:

At the Harvard Museum of Natural History, you'll find jaw-dropping wonders in every direction. No visit here is complete without visiting the impressive whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling on the second floor of the main museum.

Address and opening hours:

26 Oxford St, Cambridge. Open 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, Monday to Sunday.

12_-_BCC-2023-BEST-MUSEUMS-IN-BOSTON-12-1x1.webp

12. EcoTarium

This science and nature museum is the perfect family-friendly attraction, with themed areas and interactive play stages for children, along with living wildlife exhibits.

Highlights:

Been traipsing around Boston for days? At the EcoTarium, hop aboard a narrow-gauge railway to take the load off. For space fans, the digital planetarium is also a must.

Address and opening hours:

222 Harrington Way, Worcester. Open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, Monday to Sunday.

Alternative museums in Boston

13. Museum of Bad Art

If traditional art galleries are a little too high-brow for your liking, this quirky attraction is well worth a visit. This offbeat gallery hosts a permanent collection of hundreds of unusual artworks, with some of the artistic efforts bound to raise a smile.

Highlights:

It's not easy to have your work accepted by the Museum of Bad Art. In fact, there are some pretty rigorous standards in place. Some works are downright terrible, while others verge on disturbing.

Address and opening hours:

1250 Massachusetts Ave, Boston. Open Monday to Sunday, opening hours vary.

14_-_BCC-2023-BEST-MUSEUMS-IN-BOSTON-14-1x1.webp

14. Boston Children's Museum

Going strong for more than a century, this museum was originally conceived as a center of learning for young visitors. After a venue move in the 1970s, the museum really came into its own, with more permanent exhibitions introduced.

Highlights:

Today, the Boston Children's Museum is packed with inspiring attractions. There's an art studio where visitors can create their own masterpieces, a common for live performance and outdoor games, and educational programs to help little ones learn how to make smarter life choices.

Address and opening hours:

308 Congress St, Boston. Open Wednesday to Monday, opening hours vary. Closed Tuesdays.

15. Fenway Park Living Museum

This living museum is open to visitors year-round, with tours available to guide you through the expansive collection of sporting artifacts and sporting memorabilia.

Highlights:

The Fenway Park Living Museum, you'll learn more about the Boston Red Sox and a venue that's often considered the most beloved ballpark in the United States. With a guided tour, you can explore corners of the stadium that are usually off-limits to visitors.

Address and opening hours:

4 Jersey St, Boston. Open 9:00 AM-5:00 PM.

FAQs

What are the must-visit museums in Boston?

Because of its storied history, just about every major museum in Boston is worth a visit. If you're a fan of sculpture and design, the Institute of Contemporary Art is a must. If you're eager to learn more about the American Revolution, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is an essential stop.

Are there any free museums in Boston?

Many of the most famous Boston museums offer free days. These include the Bunker Hill Museum, the Boston Fire Museum, and the Waterworks Museum.

Are there any museums in Boston that are suitable for children and families?

Boston Children's Museum is the obvious choice if you're visiting with little ones. However, even attractions like the Museum of Fine Arts and Museum of Science are packed with attractions that will put a smile on the faces of younger visitors.

For which museums are guided tours recommended?

If you're visiting somewhere like the Fenway Park Living Museum, a guided tour is a good idea if you want to learn about the stories behind the players that made the venue what it is today. A guided tour of art venues like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is also recommended if you want to discover more about the unique collections on display.

Are there any museum passes or discount cards available for multiple museums in Boston?

Sightseeing cards and bundle packages are an affordable way to access the best museums Boston has to offer. These passes include access to popular destinations, such as the Museum of Science and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.