Boston consistently ranks as one of America’s best and most beautiful cities.
Approximately 23 million people visit yearly, eager to experience the hub’s rich history, thriving food scene, sporting delights, and myriad tourist attractions.
However, as you might expect from a modern metropolis once nicknamed “The Athens of America,” one of Boston’s main draws is its many world-class museums. The best museums in Boston cater to every cultural taste. From contemporary art collections to those devoted to science and history, there’s truly something for everyone. Today, we’re highlighting 7 of the most unmissable museums in Boston.
The 7 Best Museums in Boston to Visit
1. Museum of Fine Arts (MFA)
Home to over 100 separate galleries and around 500,000 works of art, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) is one of the most impressive collections on the planet. It’s also over 150 years old, displays infamous artworks from around the world, and hosts various special performances and cultural events throughout the year.
The Claude Monet gallery and the collection of ancient Egyptian treasures are two particular highlights, yet there’s truly an artistic treat around every turn. General admission costs $27 for adults and $10 for youths aged 7 to 17. Entry is free for kids aged 6 or under.
2. Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)
The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is another jewel in the crown of Boston’s art scene. Located right on the waterfront in the Seaport District, covered in shiny panes of glass, and encompassing 65,000 sq. ft. of floor space, the building itself is a sight to behold.
However, the real magic happens inside, where visitors enjoy a range of provocative contemporary pieces. Chief among them are works by 20th and 21st-century women, such as Doris Salcedo and Eva Hesse, yet the ICA’s programming never fails to impress.
Top tip: time your visit for Thursdays between 5 and 9 pm to enjoy free entry. Otherwise, general admission costs $20 for adults and $15 for students; it’s free for anyone aged 18 and under.
3. Boston Children’s Museum
Welcome to the second-oldest children’s museum in America, the Boston Children’s Museum. Founded in 1913, this beloved local attraction on the Fort Point Channel has everything your kids need for a fun-filled and educational day out. Spread over three floors, jam-packed with hands-on interactive exhibits. Your kids will never be bored here!
Among the endless things to keep them entertained are a life-size animatronic dinosaur, entire rooms filled with games, and The New Balance Climb – a unique indoor climbing structure that’s the height of the building itself. There’s even a public playground called Martin’s Park behind the museum for kids with unlimited energy to burn.
Admission costs $20 for both children and adults.
4. USS Constitution
First constructed in Boston in 1797, the legendary USS Constitution, also known as, “Old Ironsides”, is the world’s oldest commissioned warship that’s still afloat. This massive wooden-hulled heavy frigate has three giant masts and once carried a battery of 30 long 24-pounder cannons.
Nowadays, it cuts a striking figure in the Charlestown Navy Yard, where you can step aboard this remarkable vessel to learn all about its storied past. The best part? Admission’s free of charge throughout the year.
Close to the USS Constitution, you’ll find the eponymous museum. Visit to discover more about The Eagle of the Sea and enjoy a range of interactive displays. Operated separately from the ship, which is owned by the Navy, the USS Constitution Museum has a recommended entry fee of $10 to $15 for adults and $5 to $10 for children.
5. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
No list of the best museums in Boston would be complete without the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Once voted the “#1 Best Patriotic Attraction” by USA Today, this floating museum will surely delight history buffs who want a taste of what life would have been like in the late 18th Century.
Get ready for live actors in period costumes, full-scale replicas of contemporary sailing vessels, and various interactive exhibits packed into an immersive tour. Tickets start from $34, although multiple packages are available on the site.
6. Harvard Art Museums
Did you know Harvard is home to one of America’s best university art collections? The Harvard Art Museums are comprised of three separate museums: the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. They are arguably one of the best things to do in Cambridge, Mass., the home of Harvard and MIT.
These acclaimed spaces showcase European and American collections from the Middle Ages to the present day, art from predominantly German-speaking countries, and Asian art collections, respectively. Together, they house over 250,000 pieces, including everything from Neolithic sculptures to prints from Edouard Manet.
If you want to explore without paying a cent, visit on Sundays, when entrance is free. Otherwise, admission costs $20 for adults. But, of course, it’s always free if you’re under 18.
7. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is as unique and vibrant as the woman who established it in the early 20th Century. Grand yet intimate, this Venetian-style palazzo with a beautiful central courtyard houses masterpieces from Botticelli, Raphael, John Singer Sargent, and countless others. Combine that with the thousands of decorative objects, books, manuscripts, and remarkable historical items in the collection, and you’re in for a treat.
The museum’s not far from the MFA, either. So, if you fancy a busy day of artistic revelry, feel free to visit both on the same trip.
Admission to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum costs $20 for adults and $13 for students. It’s free for anyone under 18. Make sure you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Visit the Best Museums in Boston
Boston is an iconic city that attracts tens of millions of visitors annually. They come for all sorts of reasons, of course. From its first-rate food to its many sporting events, the hub has an endless list of irresistible attractions. However, for the culturally inclined, the best museums in Boston are arguably its biggest draw.
As we’ve seen, there’s no shortage of fascinating museums to include on a Boston itinerary. With any luck, the options above will help you decide which one(s) to visit first.
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