It’s that time of the semester again — midterms have descended upon us, we’ve exhausted our favorite campus haunts, and the confines of the Harvard bubble have become ever more suffocating. Fear not! These five underrated museum treasures offer unique getaways right in our Boston backyard.
Yearning to explore more of Boston’s history? Look no further than the Nichols House Museum, a historic site in beautiful Beacon Hill. Although suffragist Rose Standish Nichols and her family once called this townhouse home in 1885, you can call the museum an enlightening getaway today for an $8 guided tour of the property with student ID. The museum offers an engaging exploration of Boston life at the turn of the 20th century with its rich textiles and fascinating historical objects, all while probing social concerns like women’s rights by examining the life and struggles of the suffragist movement. Be sure to take a trip this Women’s History Month, or take advantage of the free International Women’s Day tours!
New England’s largest African American art and history museum is a must-see. Easily accessible from the Freedom Trail and Boston Commons, the museum is located in the former Abiel Smith School — the United States’s first public school for African American students. The site’s history amplifies the nuances of the museum’s collections and exhibitions, pointing to the complicated birth of a nation and the continued fight for justice. Timed entry adult tickets can be reserved online for $10, and you won’t want to miss out on the museum’s current exhibition — an ode to Boston’s jazz scene.
Like the Nichols House, the Gibson House is a walkable time capsule of affluent domesticity from the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum preserves four floors of historical rooms, telling the stories of generations of residents and workers in this 1859 Back Bay house once belonging to the Gibson family. To modern visitors, the house’s interior may look familiar — it was featured as Jo March’s boarding house in the 2019 film “Little Women.” Get a sense of Boston’s history through material culture and savor the museum’s opulent gilt wallpaper on a guided tour for $10 with student ID.
This unique museum deserves a spot on your pre-graduation bucket list. Inviting visitors to become active participants in exhibits engaging all the senses, the museum offers a one-of-a-kind experiential education for all ages. Where else can you virtually fly a drone through the Arctic, marvel at an IMAX film projected onto a five-story dome, and immerse yourself in a planetarium laser show to the tunes of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon?” Adult exhibit hall tickets are available for $29.
The Athenaeum’s light academia aesthetic is unrivaled. Whether you’re in the mood to marvel at resplendent portraiture and gleaming sculpture or explore a new nearby study spot, the Athenaeum’s unique blend of library and museum offers the perfect escape into Boston. Take your midterm notes and set up camp in the Pinterest-worthy first floor reading room overlooking the iconic Granary Burying Ground — with a perfect view of Paul Revere’s final resting place and Gilbert Stuart’s exquisite portraits, it’s easy to romanticize mid-semester drudgery in this vibrant hub of Boston’s cultural and intellectual life. Gain access to the first level for $8 with student ID or explore all five floors with a day pass for $40 — or join the Harvard Undergraduate Art History Society for a free tour on March 25.
—Staff writer Marin E. Gray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.