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.
Looking for Passes to Top Boston Museums?
Many of these great Boston museums are available on the Go Boston® Card pass.
Choose as you go from dozens of top Boston attractions and save up to 55% off combined admission vs paying at the gate. Or, build your own pass and save up to 20% off.
See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.