Massachusetts Museums

Massachusetts museums come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many of the most renowned are found in tourist hot spots such as Boston, and are thus easily accessible to tourists. Many of the Massachusetts museums put the focus on the state’s rich history - especially its colonial history. Few states in the country have such a storied history, so Massachusetts is definitely a prime destination for history buffs. When a break from history is in order, Massachusetts visitors can indulge in the state’s other museums. As is true of several Boston museums, many of the state’s other cultural institutions revolve around science and the arts.

Plimoth Plantation

Plimoth Plantation
Plimoth Plantation  Image: Tim Grafft - MOTT

One of the best places to get in touch with the history of Massachusetts is the town of Plymouth. Known as “America’s Hometown,” Plymouth was the site of the colony that was founded by the Pilgrims in 1620. Among the town’s main historical attractions is the Plimoth Plantation. This living museum is a recreation of the Plymouth Colony and offers fantastic insight into how the Pilgrims lived. There’s even a section of the museum that features actors/interpreters who have been trained to speak, dress, and act like the Pilgrims.

Lowell National Park

Lowell National Park
Lowell National Park  Image: NPS - Jim Higgins

Anyone who is interested in the history of Massachusetts is encouraged to drop by the city of Lowell. This fourth-largest city in the state is widely considered to be America’s cradle of the industrial revolution, and many of its historic sites are protected by the National Park Service. These sites are collectively known as the Lowell National Historical Park. Some have been restored, while others lie in an unrestored state. At the park’s visitor center, it is possible to pick up a self-guided tour packet. A variety of plaques that are found in park areas also provide information on the various attractions.

Peabody Essex Museum

Peabody Essex Museum
Peabody Essex Museum  Image: fletcher6 (wikipedia), CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the top tourist destinations in Massachusetts is the city of Salem. The city’s popularity among travelers is largely tied to its history, which includes stories that are related to the famous Salem witch trials of 1692. Fusing history with art is another attraction that helps to explain Salem’s popularity among tourists. The Peabody Essex Museum located here is internationally known for its eclectic collections. It counts among its holdings no less than 24 historic buildings. It is  best known for its collection of Asian Art, much of which arrived on ships from the 17th to 19th centuries. It is one of the best collections of its kind in the country. Art enthusiasts can also indulge in the museum’s many other collections, which revolve around such things as maritime art, American decorative art, and Native American art.

House of Seven Gables

House of Seven Gables
House of Seven Gables

Also found in Salem is the House of Seven Gables. One of the most renowned Massachusetts museums, this colonial mansion was originally built in 1667 for Captain John Turner, and it remained a Turner family possession for three generations. Restorations have been made over time, some of which relate to the fact that the founder of the House of Seven Gables Settlement Association wanted the home to appeal to fans of the 1851 Nathaniel Hawthorne novel, The House of the Seven Gables. Found adjacent to the House of Seven Gables, by the way, is the Nathaniel Hawthorne Birthplace. This neighboring home is also a museum, and admission is included in the House of Seven Gables admission fee.

Concord Museum

Concord Museum
Concord Museum  Image: Daderot (wikipedia), CC BY-SA 2.0

Massachusetts visitors who enjoy culturally-related pursuits can find plenty of joy in Concord. This town in Middlesex County has strong ties to both American history and literature. Concord was formerly home to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and was thus the targeted destination for Paul Revere on his famous “Midnight Ride” in 1775. The famous American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, moved to Concord in 1835 and became one of the town’s most prominent citizens. Another prominent citizen of the town was one Henry David Thoreau. He was actually born in Concord. As far as Massachusetts museums are concerned, it is in Concord that you will find the wonderful Concord Museum. This museum puts the majority of its focus on history, and among its most renowned holdings are the 1775 Revere lantern and Thoreau’s Walden desk.

Other Museums

Other Museums
Other Museums  Image: MOTT

So many other Massachusetts museums provide cultural enthusiasts with wonderful places to spend some time on a New England escape. Among them are Nantucket museums and historic sites like the Nantucket Whaling Museum and the Hadwen House. The Nantucket Whaling Museum was built immediately following the Great Fire of Nantucket in 1846 and originally served as a candle factory. The Hadwen House is a Greek Revival mansion that dates back to 1845 and was formerly one of the most opulent homes in the state. Other Massachusetts museums that are also worthy of note include, but are not limited to: the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst; the Eric Carle Museum (also in Amherst); the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth; and Abbott Hall in Marblehead, which is home to the original Spirit of '76 painting.

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