Best Indoor Museum Attractions in New England
Winter weekends can be tricky when the weather outside is frightful, or just frightfully cold. Those of us not so keen on outdoor winter activities like skiing or skating find fun (and keep warm) by visiting one of New England’s many museums open year-round. Here are a few of our Editors’ Picks for best indoor museum attractions in New England from the 2012 Best of New England.
BEST ART & HISTORY MUSEUM
Bush-Holley Historic Site – Cos Cob, CT
Roam the harbor-view hill where American Impressionist artists found inspiration. View their works on the walls of their boarding house; step further back in rooms that reflect the house’s 18th-century origins.
39 Strickland Road. 203-869-6899; hstg.org/visit_bh.php
BEST WHOPPER OF A TALE
New Bedford Whaling Museum – New Bedford, MA
Before the discovery of petroleum, New Bedford once ruled the seas as the world’s top whaling port. Like its quarry, the whaling enterprise seems larger than life. This museum cuts the story down to size with telling details as modest as the scrimshaw pie crimper a whaler might have carved for his mother on his multiyear absence from home.
18 Johnny Cake Hill. 508-997-0046; whalingmuseum.org
BEST AIRCRAFT EXHIBITION
New England Air Museum – Windsor Locks, CT
Not just for the aeronautically inclined: Three hangers are filled with high-flying aircraft, engines, and artifacts of airborne awe. Climb into a jet fighter or flight simulator.
36 Perimeter Road. 860-623-3305; neam.org
BEST VICTORIANA IMMERSION
Victoria Mansion – Portland, ME
First-time visitors’ jaws often drop upon entering the Morse-Libby House, a National Historic Landmark that’s rife with Victoriana and widely considered the most magnificently ornamented Italianate dwelling in the country.
109 Danforth St. 207-772-4841; victoriamansion.org
BEST ART IN A TIME CAPSULE
St. Johnsbury Athenaeum Art Gallery – St. Johnsbury, VT
Enjoy 19th-century art at the nation’s oldest art gallery in its original form. This 1873 black-walnut time warp features Hudson River School paintings, European portraits and pastorals, and Bierstadt’s dramatic Domes of the Yosemite.
1171 Main St. 802-748-8291; stjathenaeum.org
BEST INDOOR ADVENTURES
Kidcity Children’s Museum – Middletown, CT
Imagination is all that’s required as children sail ships, catch fish, shop for groceries, manage a farm, run a diner, and make music. Colorful rooms also include model-train layouts. Great rainy-day escape.
119 Washington St. 860-347-0495; kidcitymuseum.com
Cape Ann Museum – Gloucester, MA
The iconic Gloucester fisherman isn’t the only townsman to owe his living to the sea. This gem of a small museum houses the world’s best collection of maritime paintings by Fitz Henry Lane (1804-65), some Cape Ann scenes by Winslow Homer, and a whole slew of seascapes and shore images by Stuart Davis, John Sloan, and other American Modernists. 27 Pleasant St. 978-283-0455; capeannhistoricalmuseum.org