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Boston Museum of Science

Learn what sets the Boston Museum of Science apart from other museums.

A current exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science gives visitors a chance to communicate with artificial intelligence. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
A current exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science gives visitors a chance to communicate with artificial intelligence.

A planetarium, an IMAX theater, a butterfly garden and a dinosaur fossil display are a few of the many popular exhibits at the Boston Museum of Science. The opportunity to interact with scientific displays makes the Boston Museum of Science a popular tourist attraction. Boston Central recommends that visitors watch real chickens hatch from eggs, check out a replica of the first space capsule and visit the natural animal habitats with hands-on taxidermy.

History of the Boston Museum of Science

The Boston Museum of Science began in 1830 when six men established the Boston Society of Natural History to pursue their own scientific interests. The society collected many specimens and housed them at various temporary facilities. It wasn't until 1864 that the New England Museum of Natural History was established, allowing these specimens to be housed under one roof. After World War II, the museum was renamed the Boston Museum of Science and the land now known as Science Park was leased. The first wing of the museum's current location opened in 1951 and included 14,000 square feet of space for exhibits. The Boston Museum of Science continued to grow throughout the years to reach its current capacity.

Exhibits at the Boston Museum of Science

The many displays in the Boston Museum of Science's Exhibit Halls offer something for every interest. As of early 2009, exhibits included:

  • A Bird's World: a virtual tour of Acadia National Park
  • Beyond the X-Rays: insight into the human body
  • Butterfly Garden: an up-close experience with many species of butterflies
  • Cahners ComputerPlace: a chance to communicate with artificial intelligence
  • Frontiers of Biotechnology: the latest in biotechnical inventions

Other exhibits include a dinosaur display with fossils and models of various species, including a full-size model of the gigantic T.Rex. The Discovery Center is a special area designed for children five and younger to explore and interact with scientific objects. The Investigate display allows visitors to conduct experiments and engage in other educational activities.

Visitors at the Planetarium can watch shows about stars and planets, including laser shows set to music. The Gilliland Observatory, located on top of the parking garage, is open to the public on Friday nights so that visitors can view the stars and other objects in the night sky.

Live demonstrations covering a variety of scientific topics are located throughout the Boston Museum of Science. Visitors can even experience space and underwater life in a simulator.

Live Animals at the Boston Museum of Science

The live animal displays set the Boston Museum of Science apart from other museums. Around 120 animals currently reside within the museum's Live Animal Center. While visitors cannot go inside the Live Animal Center, they can see some of the animals in a special viewing area. Staff members also give presentations about the wild animals throughout the day.

Boston Museum of Science Special Programs

The staff at the Boston Museum of Science supplements the museum's exhibits with other programs and special events. Guest speakers regularly give lectures at the museum, which cover a variety of scientific subjects. Special overnight programs for children and chaperones are scheduled frequently. Podcasts, video casts and virtual exhibits are accessible on the Boston Museum of Science Web site. Traveling programs take science into local Boston classrooms. Other resources for educators are available at the Boston Museum of Science.

Supporting the Boston Museum of Science

With funding from individuals, corporations and government agencies, more than 1.5 million visitors are able to peruse the exhibits at the Boston Museum of Science each year. The museum is a non-profit organization, so it relies on these sources to continue its operation.

Individuals and groups support the operation of the Boston Museum of Science in a variety of ways. Charitable donations support the mission of the museum, while corporate sponsorships provide many opportunities to visitors, such as special events and free entry to certain events. Memberships are another way that individuals support the Boston Museum of Science in its mission to engage the public in scientific exploration. In order to keep costs down, the museum also utilizes over 650 volunteers to assist guests and help with the operation of the museum. These volunteers help with special events, assist in the care of the animals, help the curators with inventory and lend a hand with field trip groups.

Guests should call the museum at 617-723-2500 prior to visiting to inquire about current hours and exhibits.

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