Boston is a city packed with history, and whether you’re sticking to a budget or looking to splash out, everybody loves free entrance to a museum, right? We’ve put together a guide to the best free museums in Boston:
The Museum of Bad Art
If you purchase a ticket to the cinema or theater at Somerville Theatre, you can walk around the Museum of Bad Art for free. The museum prides itself on being the only museum in the world dedicated to bad art, in all its forms. Its collection is amusing and will spread a smile across your face, at the very least.
The Institute of Contemporary Art
One of the best, free museums in Boston is the Institute of Contemporary Art, which is known for its innovation, visual arts, and creative programs. At present, there’s only free admission to the museum on Thursday evenings, from 5 pm until 9 pm, so make the most of it! It boasts a beautiful waterfront location, which is a great place to sit (for free) before you can enter at 5 pm.
Bring your glasses! The Mµseum is dedicated to teeny weeny art and happily boasts being the smallest museum in the world. The unusual ‘µ’ in its title is a homage to the Ancient Greeks and means “micro” in Ancient Greek scripture. Indeed, everything about this museum is very micro and it’s too small to have an official address. It’s only eight inches deep and sixteen inches wide and showcases miniature art made in New England.
The Warren Anatomical Museum
The Warren Anatomical Museum focuses on the development of medicine and science. The museum was founded by Dr. Warren in the 19th century to showcase his collection of anatomical and pathological species. The most famous item on display is the skull of Phineas Gage, who was a railroad worker who had a 13-pound tamping iron driven through his head and survived to tell the tale. It’s said Gage’s personality was significantly altered after the incident (unsurprisingly), and his skull has since been used to study human personalities.
The Ether Dome
On a similar theme of medical-related museums is the Ether Dome, which is home to historical surgical instruments that will give you the creeps! It’s housed in a surgical operating amphitheater in Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and was formerly the hospital’s operating room in the 19th century. It was the place that first demonstrated public surgery using anesthetic, otherwise known as ether.
At the Boston Athenæum, the first floor and exhibition galleries are free to enter. It’s one of the oldest, independent libraries in the United States and is a beautifully preserved feast for the eyes. You can see rare paintings, centuries-old maps and historic photographs. It’s most jaw-dropping feature is its rows of ancient books — literary nerds rejoice!
Boston University Art Gallery
Entry is always free at the Boston University Art Gallery, which showcases work from upcoming artists and has interesting panel talks. Keep an eye on the calendar to see what events and exhibitions are coming up.
Harvard Museum of Natural History and Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Technically on the ‘free list’ is the Harvard Museum of Natural History, as buying a ticket to the adjacent Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology gives you free admission to the Harvard Museum and vice-versa. Both museums are incredibly interesting, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology is home to one of the largest collections of cultural objects in the Western world, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History is home to thousands of specimens, including dinosaur bones and rare gems.
And if you’re looking for more free things to do, why not consider volunteering in Boston and making a difference to the community?