20 Best Museums in Boston

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Being a major industrial, historical, and cultural hub of the Northeast, Boston has a wealth of museums in every category. With over 60 museums in Boston and near the city, both world-class and smaller local museums are options for visitors and locals, providing a fantastic experience for museum-goers.

Different programs, such as Go Boston, Card to Culture, and CityPASS, include admission or discounts on admission to help you save money. Many Boston museums also offer a variety of discounts. Below are 20 of the best museums in Boston, but since the city is so large, note the locations in relation to you and each other, particularly when planning multiple in a day. All hours and admissions are current as of January 2023, but confirm details on their website before going.

Museums in Boston

Museum Passes

  • The Boston CityPass offers admission to New England Aquarium, Museum of Science and Harvard Museum of Natural History, plus other benefits.
  • The Boston Explorer Pass by Go City – Save money by choosing 2 to 5 attractions from a list of 20. Museums include the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, Boston Children’s Museum, Salem Witch Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, USS Constitution Museum, Harvard Museum of Natural History.
  • Boston Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley – This will get you to 14 stops, including some museums.

20 Best Museums in Boston

1- Museum Of Fine Arts Boston

Boston museum of fine arts
One of the most popular Boston museums is the Museum Of Fine Arts.

At over 1 million visitors a year, the Museum of Fine Arts is easily one of the best museums in Boston.

Located near the historic Fenway Park since 1909, this museum is massive, with 616,937 square feet (57,315 square meters) of gallery space and almost 500,000 pieces across over a hundred galleries.

Known as one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world with art from around the world, from ancient times to contemporary, some of its biggest draws include Picasso, Da Vinci, mummies, and the largest collection of Monet outside France.

Admission is $27 for adults and $10 for kids ages 7-17. The museum is generally open from Wednesdays to Mondays from 10 am to 5 pm but is also open until 10 pm on Thursdays and Fridays.

The Museum of Fine Arts is at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, 02115. Buy the Boston Explorer Pass by Go City for access to this museum and save money.

2- Boston Tea Party Ships And Museum

museums in boston tea party ships
The Tea Party Ships Museum is one of the best museums in Boston to get an understanding of the city’s early history.

Explore and experience the historical event known as the Boston Tea Party when some of America’s Founding Fathers tossed British tea into the harbour in protest against the Tea Act in 1773.

Experience authentically restored ships, the planning meeting in the colonial meeting house with your host, a Samuel Adams re-enactor, and even toss a couple of cases of tea off the deck.

The museum also features interactive displays, bringing modern technology and history together.

Abigail’s Tea Room and Terrace is available for afternoon tea and historic tea tastings. The gift shop and tea room are open from 9,30 am to 5 pm.

Admission is $29.95 for adults and $21.95 for children ages 5 to 12. The museum is open daily at 10 am, with the last tour at 4 pm (5 pm April – October).

Boston Tea Party Ships is at 306 Congress Street, Boston, 02210. Skip the line and pre-book your tickets to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

3- Boston Children’s Museum

boston childrens museum
Another iconic museum in Boston is the Children’s Museum.

Founded in 1913, Boston Children’s Museum was one of America’s first children’s museums, and today is one of the world’s largest children’s museums.

With a wonderful waterfront view of Children’s Wharf and the iconic giant milk bottle outside, the museum offers children the chance to explore health and wellness, literacy, STEM, and visual and performing arts through play, hands-on activities, and multi-sensory experiences.

Purchased tickets online in advance at $20 per person, excluding infants under a year or if you’re planning on seeing several museums, save money and get the Boston Explorer Pass by Go City.

Regular hours are 9 am to noon and 1.30 to 4.30 pm (Wednesday to Sunday).

Boston Children’s Museum is at 308 Congress Street, Boston, 02210.

4- Museum Of Science

boston museum of science
In Boston, the Museum of Science is somewhere you could easily spend an entire day.

Founded in 1830, the Museum of Science is one of the best museums in Boston for all ages and one of the world’s largest science centres.

Home to over 700 hands-on exhibits, daily presentations, and design challenges in engineering, technology, math, and various fields of science, the Museum of Science features everything from robotics and dinosaurs to virtual tours of national parks and live animal experiences.

The museum also features sensory and interactive experiences from the IMAX and planetarium with educational shows and iconic music nights to the electricity show and the Live Animal Care Center with approximately 120 animals.

They recommend purchasing or reserving tickets in advance. Admission is $29 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $24 for children ages 3 to 11. It’s open from 9 am to 5 pm every day. Save money with the Boston Explorer Pass by Go City or the Boston CityPass.

The Museum of Science is located at 1 Science Park, Boston, 02114.

5- The Institute Of Contemporary Art Boston

The Institute of Contemporary Art was originally founded as the Bostom Museum of Art in 1936 but has continued as a unique, must-see location for art, moving to its current location in 2006.

Permanent and travelling exhibits from top thought-provoking and even controversial contemporary artists range across photography, sculpture, painting, performances, interactive exhibits, films, videos and presentations.

The Seaport Studio features a Teen Gallery featuring local youth, and the 15,000-square-foot (1,393-square-meter) seasonal Watershed focuses on large-scale art. A water shuttle ferries guests between the two buildings.

Advance tickets are recommended. Admission is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, $15 for students, and free admission for children aged 18 and under.

The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Sunday but open late until 9 pm on Thursday and Friday.

The Institute of Contemporary Art Boston is at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, 02210.

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6- Paul Revere House

paul revere house museums boston
The Paul Rever House Museum in Boston is one for history lovers.

In the North End, near some of the best Italian restaurants in Boston, lies the oldest remaining structure downtown.

Built in 1677-1680, it was almost a hundred years old when it became the home of Paul Revere, founding father and one of the revolution’s leaders, and his family from 1770-1800.

Experience what life was like for the Revere family with artifacts such as their actual furniture and silver in period setting.

Self-guided tours of the museum are available daily from 10 am to 5.15 pm, but for the first three months of the year, they are closed Mondays and close at 4.15 pm.

Tickets can be purchased onsite for $6 for adults, $5.50 for seniors and students, and $1 for children ages 5 to 17.

Paul Revere House is at 19 North Square, Boston, 02113.

7- USS Constitution Museum

museums in boston ma
The historical USS Constitution is a museum in Boston anchored in the harbour.

The USS Constitution, or “Old Ironsides,” is the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat, and the museum was rated among the best history museums in America by USA Today in 2021.

Climb aboard and see the ship’s history comes alive with programs, artifacts, and interactive exhibits in the separate museum.

The museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and the ship, owned and operated by the Navy, is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.

Visitors to the ship over 18 years of age must pass a security inspection and show a federal or state photo ID.

Suggested donation for the museum is $10 to $15 for adults and $5 to $10 for children. The ship is free on a first-come, first-served basis during their hours. Save money by getting the Boston Explorer Pass by Go City, which gives you access to this museum and a heap of others.

The museum and ship are across the water from the North End, at Building 22, Charlestown Navy Yard (88 Constitution Road), Charlestown, 02129. The Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley stops here.

8- The New England Aquarium

cool museums in boston
Aquariums are also museums of the ocean and in Boston, there’s one of the best.

Located on Boston’s downtown waterfront, the aquarium features amazing recreated habitats for marine wildlife.

There’s a giant coral reef, colourful tropical fish, playful penguins, and even seals and sea lions that you can meet on behind-the-scenes tours.

The Aquarium is one of Boston’s top attractions for visitors and locals of all ages. Admission is $34 for adults, $32 for seniors, and $25 for children 3-11. One of these passes will save you some $$ the Boston Explorer Pass by Go City and Boston CityPass.

It’s open daily from 9 am to 6 pm except during the fall and winter (September through May), when they close at 5 pm on weekdays.

New England Aquarium is at 1 Central Wharf, Boston, 02110.

9- Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner expanded her art collection in their private home with art purchased in Italy and opened an art museum in 1902.

Modelled after a 15th-century Venetian palazzo, the museum is a short walk from the Museum of Fine Arts and a bit smaller and less known.

Check out the peaceful garden, view the world-class art collection, including rare books and archival objects, learn about the famous unsolved 1990 heist, and stop by Cafe G for a bite.

Advance tickets for timed entry are required. Admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $13 for students, and free for children under 18. You’ll most likely want to visit a few museums. It’s worth getting the Boston Explorer Pass by Go City, which gives you access to this museum and others.

The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11 am to 5 pm, Thursday from 11 am to 9 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is at 25 Evans Way, Boston, 02115.

10- Old State House And Old South Meeting House

Boston museums
Old South Meeting House is a historic Boston museum to tick off your list.

The Old State House (1713) is one of the country’s oldest public buildings, sitting in between the towering Financial District buildings today.

State Street station on the orange and blue line is in the sub-basement of the building, making it an easy stop.

The building has been preserved, and the museum is on the upper level with thousands of artifacts and historical documents.

When erected in 1729, the Old South Meeting House was the colonial city’s largest building.

It has been an important gathering place for almost 300 years serving as a place for worship and meetings too large for the other Boston halls.

Daily tours with re-enactors of historic colonial figures are from 10 am to 5 pm.

Admission, which covers both sites, is $15 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, and $8 for children under 12.

You can also book themed tours with admission to both sites included.

The Old State House is at 206 Washington Street, Boston, 02109 and the Old South Meeting House is at 310 Washington Street, Boston, 02108.

11- Harvard Museum of Natural History And Peabody Museum of Archeology & Ethnology

history museums in boston
Visiting a natural history museum always reveals fascinating truths about the world we live in and in Boston, Harvard University has an excellent natural history museum.

The Harvard Museum of Natural History opened in 1998 as the public-facing side of the Harvard University Herbaria, the Mineralogical & Geological Museum and the Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Located on the Harvard University campus, it offers a wonderful opportunity to schedule a Harvard campus tour or check out Harvard Square for food, shopping, and sightseeing.

Old-word meets contemporary as it features multimedia exhibits such as time-lapses and historical artifacts like the 42-foot-long Kronosaurus skeleton and the famed “Glass Flowers”.

Open from 9 am to 5 pm, admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, free for children, $10 for non-Harvard students with ID, and Harvard ID holders are free and receive one free guest. The Boston Explorer Pass by Go City will also get you in.

Admission also provides access to the adjacent Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology.

The Peabody is one of the world’s oldest anthropology and human cultural history museums in the world, founded in 1866 with a focus on Native American communities and customs.

Located in Cambridge, less than 30 minutes away by train or car from downtown Boston, the Harvard Museum of Natural History is at 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, 02138 and the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology is at 11 Divinity Ave, Cambridge, 02138.

12- Harvard Art Museums

coolest museums in boston
There are so many fantastic museums in Boston to choose from.

Another gem on the Harvard campus is the Harvard Art Museums which consists of three amazing museums of art from around the world.

  • The Fogg Art Museum focuses on British pre-Raphaelite, Italian Renaissance, and French art.
  • The Sackler Museum features Islamic, Turkish, and East Asian art, and
  • The Busch-Reisinger Museum displays Germanic art.

Admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and free for students with valid ID, Harvard ID holders (+ 1 guest), and youth under 18.

The museums are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm and are located at 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, 02138.

13- MIT Museum

Our final museum in Cambridge recently expanded and reopened in its new 56,000-square-foot (5,202-square-meter) facility featuring interactive exhibits, hands-on learning labs, maker spaces, and other experiences that highlight science and technology in society.

It features more than 1 million prints, rare books, drawings, photographs, and films, in addition to its holograms, robots, scientific instruments, innovative engineering experiences, AI demonstrations, and digital art.

Admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, $10 for youth under 18 and students with an ID, and MIT ID holders plus one free guest are free.

MIT Museum is open every day (10 am to 5 pm) at 314 Main Street, Building E-28, Cambridge, 02142.

14- Museum Of Bad Art

The world’s only museum dedicated to bad art in all forms is housed in the Dorchester Brewing Company Tap Room with some truly unique art collections.

40 pieces are on display at a given time, and these won’t be found in places like the Institute of Contemporary Art.

The museum is free to visit and opens every day at 11.30 am and closes at 9 pm on Sunday and Monday, 10 pm Tuesday through Thursday, and 11 pm on Friday and Saturday. Friday and Saturday nights after 6 pm are for adults only (over 21).

The Museum of Bad Art is located at 1250 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, 02125.

15- John F Kennedy Presidential Library And Museum

The Presidential Library and Museum focuses on the Kennedy family, who impacted Boston and the United States significantly.

Opened in 1979, it features interactive displays, historical artifacts such as personal items, re-mastered films, and sections of Jacqueline Kennedy’s early life and tenure as First Lady.

Timed ticket reservations made in advance are recommended. Admission is $18 for adults, $12 for seniors and students with ID, and $10 for children aged 13 to 17.

The Presidential Libray and Museum is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday through Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, with regular admission ending at 2.30 pm and reduced admission until 3.15 pm.

The JFK Presidential Library is at Columbia Point, 220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, 02125.

16- MassArt Art Museum

Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the MassArt Art Museum is Boston’s only free contemporary art museum and is located in a 15,000-square-foot (1,393-square-meter) gallery within an original 1906 campus building.

All of its exhibitions and pieces are temporary, with special programming, an education studio, and an outdoor plaza also available.

The museum is always free and open Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays (noon to 6 pm) and Thursdays (noon to 8 pm), but is currently closed until 25 January 2023 for renovations.

The MassArt Art Museum is located at 621 Huntington Avenue, Boston, 02115.

17- Museum Of African American History

The Museum of African American History is New England’s largest African-American history and culture museum, occupying two neighbouring restored buildings.

The African Meeting House (the oldest Black church building in the USA) and the Abiel Smith School is the oldest public school in America built for educating African American children.

The museum is also the last of 14 stops on the Black Heritage Trail.

Online ticket reservation is required ahead of time at $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and children ages 13 to 17.

The Museum of African American History is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm and is located at 46 Joy Street, Boston, 02114.

18- The Sports Museum

The Sports Museum is a half-mile of exhibits featuring sports memorabilia, artifacts, and photos to honour Boston’s love of sports showcasing local teams like the Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, New England Patriots and New England Revolution.

Daily tours are featured from noon to 4.30 pm, leaving on half-hour increments starting at 12.30 with the last one at 3.30 pm.

Check their website to make sure they are not closed for private events.

Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for kids ages 7 to 18.

The Sports Museum is on Levels 5 and 6 of TD Garden 100 Legends Way, Boston 02114.

19- The Boston Athenaeum And Boston Public Library Art Collection

museums open in boston
At the turn of the stairs at the Boston Public Library, there are two enormous lions that commemorate Massachusetts Civil War infantry regiments.

The Boston Athenaeum is a museum, library, and cultural centre in a gorgeous building built in 1847 though the institution was founded forty years earlier.

Pop in Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 8 pm or Friday and Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm to view the first floor. Admission is $10 (adults), $8 (students/educators/military with ID), and $5 (children 11 and under).

Day Passes are available for visitors, or schedule a tour to truly experience the rare books, artifacts, paintings, and sculptures.

The 1895 Renaissance Revival-style Boston Public Library features museum-quality paintings, architecture, sculpture, and tapestries.

The second-floor gallery features the only murals by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes displayed outside of France.

The third floor features a series of unique John Singer Sargent murals that differ from his famous society paintings featured in other museums.

The Boston Public Library is free to the public and open daily, from 9 am to 8 pm on Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 5 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday.

The Boston Athenaeum is located at 10 ½ Beacon St, Boston, 02108 and the Boston Public Library location is at 700 Boylston Street, Boston, 02116.

20- Paul S. Russell, MD Museum Of Medical History And Innovation

This museum shares Massachusetts General Hospital’s 200+ years of contributions to medicine and health care with updates on the latest tech and medical approaches.

Check out the third floor for the rooftop garden with beautiful Beacon Hill skylines.
The Bulfinch Building houses the historic Ether Dome, the surgical amphitheatre where, in 1846, anesthesia was first used effectively in surgery.

It features an almost 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy with his sarcophagus, a human skeleton, and early medical instruments.

The museum is open Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 am to 2 pm, with free admission to the public. Due to COVID policies, the Ether Dome is currently closed to the general public, but stay tuned to see when it reopens, and the website has wonderful information and pictures.

The Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation is located on the Massachusetts General Hospital campus at 2 North Grove Street, Boston, 02114.

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cropped sarah hoffschwelle.jpg
Sarah Hoffschwelle is an author and freelance writer with a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s in Museum Studies focusing on science communication and education. Originally from Texas, she moved to South Korea as a child for a couple of years, travelling to China, Thailand, Japan, and Australia during her time there. She has travelled to Germany, England, and Ireland and studied abroad for a summer in Italy. She currently lives in New Hampshire and continues to travel domestically as much as possible and is planning several international trips for the next few years