5 Massachusetts Museums That Celebrate Art And History

You may have read quite a bit about the history of Massachusetts in school, but you might not realize just how many important contributions the residents of this state have made to America and the world. These museums celebrate those contributions, whether historical, artistic, political, scientific, or literary, educating the public while preserving the culture of this special place. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

5 Rewarding Museums in Massachusetts

Museum Location Features
Somerville Museum Somerville Exhibits showcasing everything from art and music to history and ecology
Norman Rockwell Museum Stockbridge Home to 998 original Rockwell paintings and drawings, gardens, sculptures by Peter Rockwell, educational and professional programs, and tours of the iconic artist's studio
Concord Museum Concord Collection of Revolutionary-era artifacts, items owned by Henry David Thoreau, a reproduction of Ralph Waldo Emerson's study, and local tours
Fitchburg Art Museum Fitchburg Pieces ranging from Ancient Egypt to contemporary works, public art projects, and teacher resources
Springfield Museums Springfield Multiple sites covering art, history, science, and Dr. Seuss

The Art of Norman Rockwell

Timeline of Massachusetts History

  • 1620: Pilgrims arrive and establish a settlement
  • 1630: A group of Puritans, led by John Winthrop, establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony
  • 1632: Boston named capital of Massachusetts Bay Colony
  • 1634: Boston Common is first public park in America
  • 1636: Harvard College established
  • 1639: First Post Office in U.S. established in Boston
  • 1692: Salem witch trials
  • 1756 - 1763: The Seven Years War
  • 1773: Boston Tea Party
  • 1775: First battle of American Revolution fought at Lexington and Concord
  • 1776: Declaration off Independence is signed
  • 1780: John Hancock is first elected governor
  • 1783: Treaty of Paris is signed
  • 1786-1787: Shays' Rebellion
  • 1788: Massachusetts admitted to the Union
  • 1796: John Adams elected president
  • 1820: Maine separates from Massachusetts
  • 1826: First American railroad built in Quincy
  • 1840: Typewriter invented by Charles Thurber in Worcester
  • 1845: First sewing machine made by Elias Howe in Boston
  • 1876: First telephone demonstrated by Alexander Graham Bell in Boston
  • 1877: Helen Magill White of Boston University becomes the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in the U.S.
  • 1891: Dr. James Naismith invents basketball
  • 1919: The Great Molasses Flood
  • 1925: Edith Nourse Rogers becomes the first woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives
  • 1960: John F. Kennedy, born in 1917 in Brookline, elected 35th president
  • 1985: Harvard University celebrates 350th anniversary
  • 2003: In Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the Supreme Judicial Court rules that the state must legally recognize same-sex marriages
  • 2006: Legislature enacts first plan in the U.S. for Massachusetts citizens to receive universal health insurance coverage

Field Trips at the Springfield Museums

In Depth

Massachusetts is a state full of history and culture. Many iconic moments from the American Revolution took place there, from Shays' Rebellion to the Boston Tea Party, and many talented artists have lived and worked there over the years. These five museums, listed here in no particular order, showcase both of these aspects of The Bay State through paintings, historical artifacts, and more.

First up, at #1, we have Somerville Museum, which strives to preserve the past, reflect the present, and help shape the future of its diverse community. Visitors can enjoy exhibitions by artists, scholars, and educators who live in the area. They cover a wide array of topics, from art to ecology. Some programming focuses on Somerville itself, exploring different aspects of its history and culture.

Every year, the organization partners with Somerville Open Studios to present the SOS First Look Exhibit. Part of an annual event that celebrates the local art scene, First Look allows guests to view works by several different artists and get an idea of what shows and studios they're interested in visiting. If you want to support the city's creators and get access to special events and programs, consider becoming a member.

If you want to support the city's creators and get access to special events and programs, consider becoming a member.

In the #2 spot, we have the Norman Rockwell Museum, which has been presenting, preserving, and studying the art of illustration since its founding in 1969. It is home to the world's largest collection of Rockwell's work, including 998 original paintings and drawings. The grounds also feature gardens, walking paths, and sculptures by Peter Rockwell, Norman's youngest son, who also narrates the audio tour.

Interactive programs, available for schools and homeschooled students, use works of art to get kids interested in visual arts, history, and language. Teachers can either plan a field trip or have a presentation come to their classroom. Team building experiences are also offered, allowing professionals to improve their creative thinking, cooperation, and effectiveness. Those who want to help the organization continue to thrive and expand can make a gift of money or art on its website.

Next, at #3, is the Concord Museum. Located in a town famous for its connection to the American Revolution, the institution houses artifacts like the Paul Revere lantern and an intricately carved colonial powder horn. Literature enthusiasts can see the desk that Henry David Thoreau kept in his house at Walden Pond, as well as a detailed reproduction of Ralph Waldo Emerson's study, featuring books and furnishings that belonged to the famous transcendentalist.

Literature enthusiasts can see the desk that Henry David Thoreau kept in his house at Walden Pond, as well as a detailed reproduction of Ralph Waldo Emerson's study, featuring books and furnishings that belonged to the famous transcendentalist.

Visitors to the area can take advantage of a free series of self-guided tour itineraries that are available both in person and online. These walking trails focus on different aspects of Concord's history, from the Revolutionary War to artists who lived and worked in the town. Annual events include the festive Holiday House Tour, Patriot's Day celebrations, and a golf tournament that supports the organization's educational initiatives. If you want to help out with these community gatherings, you can sign up to become a volunteer.

Coming in at #4, we have the Fitchburg Art Museum, which was founded in the 1920s by artist and collector Eleanor Norcross. FAM's permanent collection includes artifacts from Ancient Egypt, contemporary art, and more. Outside its grounds, the institution organizes public art projects that allow New England artists to share their creativity with a wide audience.

FAM works closely with Fitchburg State University, offering students free admission, quality internships, and classes co-taught by museum staff and FSU faculty. It also provides resources for teachers, giving them innovative techniques for integrating art into history, math, science, and language arts courses. In order to make its collection accessible to all, FAM has free admission hours during the first Thursday of each month. Support these and other efforts by donating to its annual fund.

In order to make its collection accessible to all, FAM has free admission hours during the first Thursday of each month.

Finally, at #5, we have the Springfield Museums. This organization allows visitors to visit five different museums and a sculpture garden under a single admission. The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum features eclectic collections of Chinese cloisonne, 19th-century Middle Eastern carpets, American paintings, and more. Those interested in the area's past can visit the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History and enjoy its galleries or conduct research in its library and archives.

The Springfield Science Museum houses animals in realistic habitats, fluorescent minerals, and the oldest operating planetarium in the United States. Kids and the young at heart alike can appreciate the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. Dedicated to honoring the legacy of the famous Springfield native, the gallery is both educational and entertaining, with plenty of interactive stations for the little ones. You can support these institutions by becoming a member or buying something from the organization's online store.