You learn something new every day, and with the wide variety of museums in Merrimack Valley, you have the opportunity to learn a ton. School might not be in session for another month, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still educate yourself at one of the local museums. Whether you have children going back to school or you’re an adult who loves learning, don’t let August pass you by without a trip to one or more of these museums.
From the Founding Fathers to the Industrial Revolution, the Greater Merrimack Valley is full of history. That’s why you should stop by the incredible, can’t-miss history museums that touch on different parts of the county and country’s past.
History enthusiasts love the Concord Museum for its distinguished collection of American treasures. Where else can you see Revolutionary War artifacts like Paul Revere’s “one if by land” lantern? Or the desk where Henry David Thoreau wrote “Walden”? You can even see Ralph Waldo Emerson’s study up close and personal.
There are sixteen interactive galleries and rotating exhibits, so even returning visitors will find something new and fascinating to discover. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Walk-in visitors are welcome and admission is $15 for adults.
Boott Cotton Mills Museum
Lowell was the United States’ first planned industrial city and was a leader of the American Industrial Revolution with its textile factories and mills. The Boott Cotton Mills Museum lets you step into the city’s past with a variety of incredible exhibits. Explore the stories of the mills’ workers, engineers, investors, and inventors who put Lowell on the map and revolutionized the country’s economy.
Travel through time from the 1700s to today with interactive exhibits. Hear the roar of a 1920s weave room with real, operating power looms that are over 100 years old. Learn the personal stories of the people who lived and worked in the mills with the Lowell: Visions of Industrial America exhibit. See real early 20th century photographs of child workers during the Industrial Revolution in the Child Labor: Documentary Photography and the Quest for Reform exhibit.
The museum is open daily from 10am to 4pm and adult admission is only $6.
Museum of Printing
The typewriter and the Linotype are two of the most important American inventions. This is why the Museum of Printing preserves the rich history of graphic arts, printing and typesetting technology, and printing craftsmanship. Visitors will see special collections of antique printing, typing, and bindery machines as well as libraries of books and print-related documents.
The museum is open every Saturday from 10am to 4pm. General admission is $15.
Kids with inquisitive minds love a trip to the science museum, and all children love to play. That’s why the Discovery Museum teaches kids science, math, and more through hands-on exhibits and playful experiments. Within the indoor section of the museum, kids will explore the properties of air, water, sound, light, and math with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) experiences appropriate for even the youngest learners.
To make the most of the beautiful summer weather, make sure to follow the kids outside into the Discovery Woods. This is where they can explore the woods and play in a treehouse and on climbing equipment to learn about nature and physics. They’ll come away with a smile and a head full of knowledge, and perhaps even a few new friends.
Both the Discovery Museum and Discovery Woods are open year-round with seasonal hours. Summer hours are 9am to 4:30pm seven days a week. The rest of the year they’re open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 4pm.
Beautiful pieces of art can inspire and expand your imagination in great ways. It doesn’t matter if the medium is oil painting, watercolor, sculptures, photography, or textiles; beauty is everywhere and these museums showcase that.
Addison Gallery of American Art
If you love art, you must add the Addison Gallery of American Art to your travel itinerary. It’s home to a world-class collection of over 25,000 pieces of American art spanning the 18th century to the present. These works cover a wide range of mediums and include famous, diverse names such as Winslow Homer, James McNeill Whistler, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Thomas Eakins, Lorna Simpson, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith.
With such an extensive collection, pieces are regularly rotated and new exhibits are featured. Traveling exhibitions are also regularly announced, so even the most seasoned museum visitor will find something new to discover. In a typical year, the Addison presents approximately twelve shows that are designed to represent a wide range of art, across time and media.
The museum is free and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm and on Sundays from 1pm to 5pm.
New England Quilt Museum
Crafters and quilters can’t miss the opportunity to visit the New England Quilt Museum. See quilts and patchwork from around the world and throughout time in rotating exhibitions. You can learn about the history and work that goes into making quilts, view awe-inspiring pieces, and experience different cultures through fabric and sewing.
The museum is open May-October every Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sundays from 12pm to 4pm. In November-April it’s open Wednesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Admission is $8 year-round.
deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum
Viewing art doesn’t necessarily involve being inside a gallery. If you want to enjoy a beautiful summer day and view art at the same time, head over to the deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum. At the sculpture park you’ll see over fifty large-scale, outdoor sculptures and site-specific installations. These modern and contemporary sculptures are designed to inspire and educate as you walk the beautiful grounds. Encompassing 30 acres of land, it’s the largest park of its kind in New England.
In the summer, the grounds are open Monday through Friday from 10am to 4pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Admission is $14 for adults.
The fact is, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking to make scientific discoveries, learn about the historic figures that shaped the country, or gaze upon great American art, Merrimack Valley is simply full of museums that you’ll want to visit.