Museums Showcase Massachusetts’ Cultural and Historical Richness

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(Caption: A Model of the Whaler ’Lagoda‘. Photo Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.)

by Kennedy Stomps

From the heights of the Berkshires to the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts is a museum lover’s haven, offering an inspiring array of museums that reflect the state’s cultural richness and diversity.

They range from world renowned museums like the Museum of Fine Arts, Harvard Museum of Natural History and Mass MoCA, to local favorites like the Fuller Craft Museum, Museum of Russian Icons, and the Fruitlands Museum, and even the downright quirky—like the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History, the Plumbing Museum and the Edward Gorey House.

The Commonwealth’s commitment to the cultural arts is a longstanding tradition. In the Massachusetts Constitution, John Adams writes that it “shall be the duty of legislatures…in all future periods of this commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences…[and] to encourage private societies and public institutions.”

Today, the more-than 500 museums in Massachusetts contribute millions of dollars to local and state economies, and provide hundreds of jobs in their respective regions, while contributing to the state’s creative economy and tourism industry. Overall, cultural institutions attract 14 million visitors to the state each year, generating a total annual economic impact of over $3.4 billion.

Visitors can go inside Norman Rockwell’s studio, explore the country’s largest collection of textiles and tools and take in works by Monet, Degas and Renoir here in Massachusetts. And with museums featuring collections of Japanese Samurai armor, Asian and African art and Greek and Roman sculpture, you don’t need a passport to see some of the finest art from around the world.

Those interested in the rich history of the Commonwealth can step aboard the Mayflower II or into a 17th century English town, meet the organizers of the Boston Tea Party, learn about whaling and the maritime tradition and experience life in a historic Shaker village.

Sports fans will definitely want to take a “time out” to visit the Naismith Basketball Museum, Volleyball Hall of Fame, Golf Museum and TD Gardens Sports Museum.

Finally, a trip to Massachusetts wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of the state’s many Presidential sites. Visitors can check out the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Adams National Historic Park, the John F. Kennedy Birthplace, the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum.

In September, the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism is presenting an exhibit of Massachusetts museums at the Newton Free Library. The display will be located in the main Atrium of the library which is located at 330 Homer St. in Newton Center. The library is open Monday-Thursday 9:00 am-9:00 pm, Friday 9:00 am-6:00 pm and Saturday 9:00 am -5:00 pm and the display is free and open to the public, so stop by!