Out of the Ordinary Boston Museums

Out of the Ordinary Boston Museums


Posted 2020-04-24 by Midlands & Morefollow
Boston is home to a wide variety of well-known, world class museums with stunning collections, such as the Harvard Art Museums , Museum of Fine Arts , the Museum of Science , the Institute of Contemporary Art and many others. The area is also home to a great range of small institutions representing quirky collections, specific interests, or important history. The following list highlights these less well-known institutions from Boston and neighbouring towns.

At the time of this article (April 2020), most of these museums are temporarily closed for social distancing policies, but, of course, will open again for future visits. Also, many have made their collections available online or, like the Massachusetts Historical Society, are collecting present day Covid-19 experiences for the historical record, so there is still a chance for online activity via interactive contribution or viewing of online galleries whilst they are closed to visitors.

The Museum of Bad Art

The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) is located in the basement of Somerville Theatre , Davis Square. It describes itself as: 'the world's only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition, and celebration of bad art in all its forms.' The definition of 'bad art' may be open to debate; however, the MOBA describes its 'bad art' collections as having a 'special quality that sets them apart in one way or another from the merely incompetent.' The museum certainly is an intriguing contrast to the usual museum of art. Selections from the collection may be viewed online.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

The Carle Museum 'collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture book illustrations from around the world,' and 'houses more than 11,000 objects, including 7,300 permanent collection illustrations.' This museum is located about 1.5 hours outside of Boston in Amherst, but is worth the trip over. Of course, it is temporarily closed at the moment, so the focus has shifted to online resources. They are offering a vibrant online space , including Making Art Together , Picture Books We Love , online videos, distance learning, virtual tour , and virtual educator workshops.

#gref ">Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is an eclectic collection of mostly European art and objects gathered from the namesake's life and travels. In the centre of the house is a picturesque conservatory. The Museum is currently offering an Inside the Collection tour and blog whilst it is temporarily closed.

Massachusetts Historical Society

The Massachusetts Historical Society is known to scholars for its research library and a large collection of documents about colonial and early American histories, such as the Endicott, Jefferson, and Adams papers. MHS offers several opportunities for visitors to enjoy selections from the collections, including exhibitions, public lectures, tours, brown-bag lunches, seminars, and teacher workshops. Currently, MHS is collecting experiences of Covid-19 for the historical record. You can share your own experiences at Witness to History .

Museum of African American History

Hidden in the middle of Joy Street next to Boston Common is the Museum of African American History and the African Meeting House, which is the first of its kind in America and the oldest black church building in the country (it also was a synagogue for about a century of its history). The Museum is part of Boston's Black Heritage Trail that tells the story of black communities from colonial America through the 19th century, especially in the 'North Slope' area, which was central to early Civil Rights activism. Many famous individuals have spoken in the African Meeting House, including Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. Located next to the meeting house is the Abiel Smith School , which is the oldest black public school in the nation. Today, the Abiel Smith School hosts rotating exhibitions and a museum store. At the moment, the website hosts an on-line exhibition whilst the museum is temporarily closed.

Boston Public Library

Technically this is a working public library, not a museum, but its art, architecture, and beautiful central reading room are open to public and private tours on a variety of topics.

Salem Witch Museum

This is an odd little museum for an odd moment in colonial American history. It largely focuses on the events of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, but touches upon witch hunts through the ages and includes an exhibition on 'ancient pagan wise woman, the stereotypical witch, modern witchcraft and the phenomenon of witch hunts.' The museum website offers a Witch Trials Online Tour.

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