Exploring Boston’s Lesser Known Museums

Boston is home to some of the best museums in the country. Yet, some of its most notable museums fall under the radar of the casual visitor and even residents of the great city. TO that end, here is a look at some of Boston’s great museums that are worth a visit, many of which are free.

Ancient and Honorable Artillery Co.

Located on the 4th floor in Faneuil Hall directly across from the elevator, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Co. dates back to the 1630s. This collection of military memorabilia covers a number of eras and includes a variety of objects on display. The museum is free to the public on weekdays from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm.

The Battle of Bunker Hill Museum

Located on Monument Square, the Battle of Bunker Hill Museum chronicles the 1778 battle between colonial and British forces. The museum also offers the opportunity to explore local history, with the greatest emphasis on pre-20 century history. Operated by the National Park Service and located across from the Bunker Hill memorial, this museum is free to explore.

Boston Fire Museum

Located in an old firehouse at 344 Congress Street that dates back to 1891, the Boston Fire Museum features a variety of firefighting equipment, vehicles and historical photos commemorating the Boston Fire Department. Visitors are also greeted by a friendly dalmation. The museum is free to visit, though donations placed in the boot out front are appreciated.

Museum of African American History

Located at 46 Joy Street, the Museum of African American History tells the story of African-Americans in New England from colonial times through the 19th century. The building itself is also of historic significance as the African Meeting House dating back to 1806. The building remains the oldest standing black church edifice in the country.

West End Museum

Dedicated to Boston’s West End, the aptly-named West End Museum chronicles the forced transition of the West End due to the urban renewal efforts of the 1950s and 1960s. The museum also explores the roles of various immigrant groups in the development of the city. Located at 150 Staniford Street, the museum is free to visit, though donations are requested for larger groups.

Warren Anatomical Museum

The somewhat unusual Warren Anatomical Museum boasts approximately 15,000 artifacts and cases donated by the museum’s namesake. A Harvard medical professor, Warren’s collection includes items such as the skull of Phineas Gage, which is notable for having had an iron rod shot through it without causing death. The collection in the museum dates back to the late 1840s. The museum is free to visit.

Waterworks Museum

Located at 2450 Beacon Street, which happens to be the site of the original Chestnut Hill Reservoir and pumping station, the Waterworks Museum tells the story of one of the earliest metropolitan water systems in the country. The main attraction of the museum, which is free to visitors, is a trio of coal-powered, steam-driven water pumps that date back to the 1800s.

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