The Best Museums in Boston, MA

The 15 Best Boston Museums You’re Going to Want to Visit!

Boston is one of the most historic cities in the US. Everywhere you go, you’ll be surrounded by historic landmarks that mark spots where this nation was created.

Many of the best museums in Boston discuss that history, but Boston is also a college town with some of the best institutions in the world, which have their own museums to explore. As a result, there really is a museum for everyone in Boston, from history buffs to science lovers to art fans!

Wondering which Boston museums are worth a visit? We’ve compiled a list of the best museums in Boston to help you spend your days immersed in the best of Beantown.

The 15 Best Museums in Boston, MA

1. Admire the Beauty of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Top Museums in Boston, Massachusetts: Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum

Created by socialite Isabella Stewart Gardner, where she shared her collection of unique art pieces gathered through her years of travels, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is one of the top art museums in Boston. 

Throughout her collection, you’ll find paintings, sculptures, furniture, rare books, and much more from Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, Renaissance Italy, Asia, the Middle East, and 19th-century France and America.

The museum is as well-known for its collection as it is for its courtyard. There, you’ll find seasonal displays of unique flowers and plants with stunning sculptures throughout. 


2. Take in the Amazing Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Best Boston Museums to Visit: Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is one of the most impressive art museums in not just Boston but the entire world. It’s home to more than 100 art galleries and more than 450,000 works of art, making its collection one of the most significant in the Americas. 

Top Museums in Boston, Massachusetts: Museum of Fine Arts

Here, you can explore both permanent and rotating exhibits, as well as take part in the museum’s various programs, including studio art classes for adults and kids alike.


3. Play Around the Museum of Science

Museums to Visit in Boston: Museum of Science

Located on the Charles River, the Museum of Science is one of the best Boston museums for those who have curious minds and love learning new things. This museum features both permanent and temporary exhibits, so there’s always something new to learn, from how we explore the worlds beyond our own to innovations in public health.

Best Boston Museums to Visit: Museum of Science

In addition to more than 700 interactive exhibits, this museum also has a five-story domed IMAX theater, a planetarium, a 4D theater, and live presentations throughout the day.


4. Experience the History of the Boston Athenaeum

Best Boston Museums to Visit: Athenaeum

Part library, part museum, and part cultural center, the Boston Athenaeum is one of the oldest independent libraries in the US, making it one of the most unique museums in Boston. Pay a visit and walk through the stacks with their soaring arched ceilings. 

In addition to perusing the books, you can also explore the Athenaeum’s exhibitions, which dive into one-of-a-kind historical collections or listen to talks with history and literary experts. 


5. Let Your Kids Explore the Boston Children’s Museum

Top Museums in Boston, Massachusetts: Boston Children’s Museum

If you’ve got little ones, the Boston Children’s Museum is one of the must-visit Boston museums. This museum helps kids learn through play, with interactive exhibits allowing them to embrace the arts, become little engineers, explore different cultures, and much more.

In addition to the exhibits, kids and their whole family can take part in various classes, like their STEAM-focused family workshops. 


6. Experience the Three Harvard Art Museums

Museums to Visit in Boston: Harvard Art Museums

The Harvard Art Museums are actually three of the best art museums in Boston. Located in Cambridge, these three museums each offer a unique experience where you can explore art across centuries and continents. 

Best Boston Museums to Visit: Harvard Art Museums

Over in the Fogg Museum, you’ll explore the history of Western art, while the Busch-Reisinger Museum focuses on art from German-speaking countries. The newest of the three, the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, is dedicated to Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean art. 


7. Step into the Modern World of the Institute of Contemporary Art

Museums to Visit in Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art

There are many Boston art museums, but the Institute of Contemporary Art stands out among the rest as a place that celebrates new art and ideas. It also invites you to see art in a different way. 

Top Museums in Boston, Massachusetts: Institute of Contemporary Art

While you can come here to explore the constantly evolving exhibits, which include unique displays from well-known and up-and-coming artists, you can also pay the museum a visit during one of its many events. From music to fashion to shadow puppets, you’ll learn that the idea of art really has no limits.


8. Visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

Best Boston Museums to Visit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum is one of the best Boston museums if you enjoy exploring presidential history. This museum and library is dedicated to our 35th president. While the museum explores the story of the Kennedy family, it also dives deep into what happened during JFK’s presidency leading up to his assassination. 

Through interactive exhibits, you’ll unearth the history of the Cuban Missile Crisis, including reading formerly classified documents. You’ll also discover the secret behind-the-scenes negotiations on civil rights legislation that happened during one of our country’s most tumultuous eras. 


9. Step Back in Time at the Old State House

Best Boston Museums to Visit: Old State House

Back in 1713, the Old State House was the center of the royal government in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. But it’s best known for the tragedy that occurred on the night of March 5, 1770.

It was here that British soldiers opened fire, killing five people, including the first person to die in the American Revolution, Crispus Attucks. It would be six years later that Bostonians would again gather under the balcony of the Old State House, this time celebrating as they heard the Declaration of Independence for the first time. 

Today, the Old State House is a historic site and museum where you can explore the history of the American Revolution, with a focus on the events that happened in and around the historic landmark. 

Get an Old State House Ticket


10. Explore Art at the MassArt Art Museum

MassArt Art Museum, owned by the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, is one of the newest Boston art museums, having only opened in 2020. This art museum focuses on contemporary artists and challenges our definition of art. 

There is no permanent collection at this museum, just temporary rotating exhibits, so there’s always something new to see and contemplate here. As such, this museum will always focus on what’s unique and visionary in the art world.


11. Discover the Natural World at the Harvard Museum of Natural History

Top Museums in Boston, Massachusetts: Museum of Natural History

The Harvard Museum of Natural History is another of Harvard University’s many museums over in Cambridge and another of the coolest Boston museums. It focuses on a wide variety of sciences, from zoology to geology. 

Best Boston Museums to Visit: Museum of Natural History

Throughout the permanent and temporary exhibits, you’ll find the museum’s historical artifacts alongside hands-on activities and multi-media displays. One of the biggest highlights of this museum, which is Harvard’s most-visited attraction, is the famous collection of Glass Flowers. 


12. Uncover New Worlds at the MIT Museum

Over at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, one of the best museums near Boston, you can discover our world through art, history, and science. It houses a collection of more than one million items, with artifacts dating back to the school’s 1861 founding. 

The museum is known for its constantly changing exhibits, so you’ll always find something new to uncover here. You can also take part in daily programs that will have you make scientific discoveries, become an engineer, and much more. 


13. Learn About US History at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

Best Boston Museums to Visit: Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is more than one of the best Boston museums – it’s a place where you can literally be a part of history. Through live actors, interactive exhibits, and a full-scale replica of 18th-century sailing vessels, you can take part in the Boston Tea Party. 

Museums to Visit in Boston: Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

The live actors will be on hand to tell you all about the Sons and Daughters of Liberty and what happened on that fateful night in 1773. You can also see historical artifacts to learn more, like the Robinson Tea Chest, the only surviving tea chest from the Boston Tea Party.

Be a Part of the Boston Tea Party


14. Explore Abolitionist History at the Museum of African American History

Too often, the contributions and lives of African Americans are too little discussed in US history museums. The Museum of African American History is dedicated to shedding light on those stories.

At this Boston museum, you’ll uncover true stories of Black communities in the 18th and 19th centuries through a vast collection of artifacts and interactive exhibits. To truly immerse yourself in this history, take the Black Heritage Trail, which invites you to see the Beacon Hill neighborhood through the lens of the stories of the Black communities that once fought for freedom there.  


15. Discover the History of Firefighters in Boston at the Boston Fire Museum

The Boston Fire Museum is one of the most unique Boston museums. It’s a particularly great pick if you’re traveling with little ones, especially if they have dreams of being firefighters themselves one day. Found in the historic Congress Street Fire Station, this museum explores firefighting history through unique exhibits. 

Here, you’ll learn about Boston’s most famous fires and firehouses. You’ll uncover the way that firefighters have protected us for centuries and what they use to do the same for us today.

There you have it! The 15 best Boston museums. What’s your favorite museum in Boston? Let us know in the comments!


Planning a trip to Massachusetts? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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Author

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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