Massachusetts is one of the most popular states in the country to visit thanks to the perfect combination of history and natural beauty. With historic cities such as Boston that feature museums, entertainment, architecture, and more and natural wonders including the Boston Harbor, coastal beaches and towns, Cape Cod, and lush forests, it is no wonder why countless travelers love to explore all that the state has to offer.
While there are certainly plenty of ways to spend time while in Massachusetts, a great focus of a trip can be museums as there are countless options to choose from. From historical collections to art to natural sciences, there seems to be a museum for everything found there! Here are the seven museums in Massachusetts that are worth visiting while traveling through the state.
Norman Rockwell Museum
One of the most celebrated illustrators in American is celebrated at a beautiful home in the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The Norman Rockwell Museum was founded in 1969 by Norman and Molly Rockwell as the town was where the artist spent the last twenty-five years of his life. Featuring nearly one thousand original paintings and drawings, visitors to the Norman Rockwell Museum can tour the artist’s studio, take in renowned works of art, and also browse the Norman Rockwell Archives which house a collection of over one hundred thousand items. In addition to the beautiful museum and studio, the Norman Rockwell Museum is situated on a thirty-six-acre site overlooking the Housatonic River Valley, making it a pleasant location to explore the grounds of.
Harvard Museum of Natural History
One of the most well-known locations in all of Massachusetts is Harvard University in Cambridge and the renowned school is also home to some amazing museums including one that focuses on natural sciences. The Harvard Museum of Natural Science was established in 1998 as a combination of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University Herbaria, and Mineralogical & Geological Museum. Aiming to have visitors develop an understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the human place in it, the museum is home to stunning exhibitions including Climate Change, Earth & Planetary Sciences, Birds of the World, Arthropods: Creatures that Rule, Glass Flowers, New England Forests, Marine Life, and the Great Mammal Hall.
Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology
Also found at Harvard University is another wonderful museum that boasts over one million objects. The Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology was founded by George Peabody in 1866 and still operates inside the same facility as when it opened. The extensive and eclectic collection includes items showcased in exhibitions including All the World Is Here: Harvard’s Peabody Museum and the Invention of American Anthropology, Caspian: The Elements, Nasca Ceramics: Ancient Art from Peru’s South Coast, Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos, and Digging Veritas: The Archaeology and History of the Indian College and Student Life at Colonial Harvard. Visitors to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology can enjoy exploring the museum by themselves or opt for a tour led by a current Harvard student during the fall and spring semesters.
Old Sturbridge Village
A unique outdoor museum in Sturbridge brings a New England town of the past to life to showcase a different time in history. Old Sturbridge Village recreates a full town from the 1830s and invites visitors to explore over forty buildings including everything from trade shops to a school. In addition to the permanent buildings and historical interpretations, Old Sturbridge Village features special events year-round including The Sleepy Hollow Experience, Christmas by Candlelight, New England Thanksgiving, and more. This wonderful experience is a great way for families to learn about the history of New England and daily life in the past there through immersive and entertaining moments!
Worcester Art Museum
The city of Worcester, Massachusetts is home to an amazing art museum that showcases pieces of all different time periods, motifs, and genres. The Worcester Art Museum was founded in 1896 and has continued to collect amazing pieces over the years with the goal of engaging visitors of all ages and showcasing how art can connect to everyday life. With over thirty-eight thousand items in the collection, visitors to the museum can browse exhibits including With Child: Otto Dix / Carmen Winant, Radiance Rediscovered: Stained Glass by Tiffany and La Farge, and Archaic Avant-Garde: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from the Horvitz Collection. With a charming Museum Café, daily activities, and wonderful resources to explore, the Worcester Art Museum is a great location to enjoy in Massachusetts.
Salem Witch Museum
A very well-known, yet dark, period in American history was the persecution of believed witches in the town of Salem, Massachusetts and a museum located there shares the story of the time period in rich detail. The Salem Witch Museum focuses on the Witch Trials of 1692 and tells the story of the events through historical documents and sets with life-size figures that reenact some of the events. The main exhibit of the museum is Witches: Evolving Perceptions which tells of the lives of witches, breaks down and explains stereotypes, and what witchcraft looks like today. The Salem Witch Museum is a unique and immersive experience that brings life to a dark time in American history that visitors will certainly enjoy.
Nantucket Whaling Museum
With so many coastal communities, Massachusetts as a rich history rooted in the sea including boating, fishing, and whaling. The Nantucket Whaling Museum features nine galleries filled with artifacts, art, and more that come together to tell the history of Nantucket and its roots in the sea and whaling spanning over four centuries. Visitors to the museum can enjoy self-guided and walking tours that ring them through Gosnell Hall, the Williams Forsyth Gallery, Hadwen & Barney Oil and Candle Factory, Neptune’s Grotto, and more where showcased items include everything from a massive whale skeleton to items traded over the centuries from whaling and commerce. The Nantucket Whaling Museum is truly a unique glimpse into the history of the location that can be enjoyed daily year-round!