I don’t know if you heard about this, I certainly didn’t, but today is International Museum Day! First established in 1977 (so today is its 40th anniversary!), it’s meant to raise awareness of the role that museums play in developing society throughout the world. Since 1997, it’s been given a new theme each year to highlight the various experiences that museums can offer. This year, the theme is “Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums”, meant to highlight the role they play in opening discussion.
In honor of International Museum Day, I thought it would be fun to discuss different great museums in the greater Boston area that you can visit, covering different areas of the human experience:Museum of Science: Spanning Boston’s Charles River, the Museum of Science featured over 700 interactive exhibits, live presentations, planetarium shows and even an indoor zoo! Here, hands-on activities encourage interaction and learning for all ages, and even if you flunked biology in 10th grade, it’s still a great experience that’s just as fun as it is educational. You could spend a whole day here, and still not see everything. Plimoth Plantation: While it wasn’t the first European settlement in the US, the symbolic value of Plymouth, where the Pilgrims landed in 1620, can’t be overstated. This living history museum demonstrates various aspects of the Plymouth story, featuring a recreation of what the settlement would have looked like in 1624, a replica of the Mayflower, a grist mill, a farm and a Wampanoag village. Certain staff members are able to answer any questions about this unique piece of American history, while others are trained to act, speak and dress exactly like our Pilgrim forefathers would have in 1624. Museum of Fine Arts: As the fourth-largest museum in the US, it goes without saying that there’s plenty to see at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, as its one million-plus annual visitors could tell you. There’s a whole lot to see here, so clear your schedule for the day and don’t forget to bring your walking shoes. The art collections here are unique and vary from ancient to Italian Renaissance to modern, so there’s guaranteed to be something for just about everybody. New England Holocaust Memorial: As one of the darkest events in recent history, it’s essential that we never overlook the Holocaust, so that we never repeat the same mistakes. Luckily, the New England Holocaust Memorial does an excellent job at remembering the six million innocent people who were killed during the Holocaust for no reason other than their birth. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology: While the Peabody Museum of Natural History is in Connecticut (and it’s pretty great if you’re ever in New Haven!), the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology is conveniently located in nearby Cambridge. Since its founding over 150 years ago, it’s one of the largest and oldest anthropological museums in the world, focusing on the ethnography and archaeology of the Americas through thousands of artifacts and interesting, engaging exhibits. While it’s not as big as some other museums on this list, admission also gets you into the Harvard Museum of Natural History, but more on that in just a bit!Harvard Museum of Natural History: After paying for admission to the Peabody Museum, use that ticket to get into the Harvard Museum of Natural History. As a museum run by one of the most prestigious schools in the world, it certainly delivers. One of the more famous exhibits here are the “glass flowers”, a collection of beautiful and highly detailed botanical models made in 19th-century Germany. It’s a small space, but packed well and is brilliantly curated. Boston Children’s Museum: There are some great museums in this list, but they aren’t all suitable for all ages. If you’re looking for something geared towards younger children, then the Boston Children’s Museum has got you covered. It’s geared towards younger children (even those under a year old!), and does a great job at keeping the area clean, giving plenty for kids to play with and making sure that everybody is safe while having a great time.