Bostonians are lucky to have a great variety of wonderful museums. And so are you. So let’s get started (this arts journey could easily occupy two full days, if not three – so you’ll have to make some choices, or hurry!)
Start your morning with a visit to the museum built by the grande doyenne of Boston Arts – Isabella Stuart Gardner – in 1903. The Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum is essentially unchanged since her death in 1924. In the center of the mansion there is a beautiful garden courtyard in where concerts are held during the warmer seasons.
Stroll the short distance to one of Boston’s most revered treasures, The Museum of Fine Arts. In addition to its permanent collection, check out the rotating exhibits (timed tickets are necessary) on the second floor. Enjoy lunch in one of the museum’s three restaurants or tea in the courtyard café.
In the afternoon, head to Harvard Square and its excellent Fogg Art Museum. Housed on two floors surrounding a mock sixteenth-century Italian Renaissance courtyard, it showcases the highlights of Harvard’s substantial collection of Western Art – it is home to the most important collection of Picassos in New England.
A five-minute walk from the Fogg, you will find the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology and the Museum of Natural History, housed in the same building. Don’t miss the collection of pieces from Mesoamerica and the stunning Ware Collection of Glass Models of Plants – constructed to the last detail, entirely from glass.
Even if you have only a passing interest in Modernism, a visit the Institute of Contemporary Art, is a must. An architectural wonder, the stunning building on the Boston Harbor waterfront is worth a visit in itself. Check out their calendar for special events and exhibits, but don’t miss the permanent collection.
The Boston Public Library in Copley Square was the first library in America to permit the borrowing of books. The Italian Renaissance Revival structure was built in 1852 and houses the gorgeous Bates Reading Room, a beautiful courtyard and the Sargent Hall with more than fifteen astonishing murals by John Singer Sargent among other beautiful rooms. It is the largest research library in New England.
Most of Boston’ excellent private art galleries are found on Newbury Street in the Back Bay and on our own Charles Street in Beacon Hill. The SoWa district of the South End is the home to hundreds of artist’s studios, as well the newest generation of galleries.
Antiques represent the most immediate form of art for many of us, the art with which we live. For antiques, Charles Street in Beacon Hill is your destination. Not only is Charles Street home to New England’s finest collection of antique shops, but both Sotheby’s and Skinner’s Auction Houses are right here as well, steps away from Beacon Hill Hotel and Bistro.
For modern design furniture, head to the corner of South Charles and Boylston Streets, a short five minute walk from Beacon Hill Hotel.
One more specifically Bostonian location bears mention. If you, or your inner child, have ever been in awe of the extraordinary craftsmanship which goes into model ships, the Lannan Gallery will amaze and delight you.
Boston Symphony Orchestra, performs at Symphony Hall in the Back Bay and so does its more playful sibling, Boston Pops. Classical concerts and jazz dominate the schedule at the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall in the Fenway, not far from Symphony Hall. For jazz and folk, buy a ticket to one of Berklee Performance Center’s excellent concerts. The Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Crossing performs mostly world music. Many of the museums also have concert series and in the summer, bring a picnic to the free concerts at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade on the banks of the Charles River. All of these locations are within a thirty minute walk from Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro.
There are many theaters in Boston, our favorites being the Huntington Theatre with its two locations, and the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge. The Opera House in Downtown crossing plays host to many wonderful larger-scale shows, as does the Citicenter for Performing Arts, the Colonial Theater, and the Shubert Theatre, which is also home to Boston Lyric Opera. Don’t miss the wildly successful Blue Man Group at the Charles Playhouse Stage, and if you happen to visit Boston in late July, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company performs nightly in the Boston Common. If you like smaller club venues, we suggest the sensational Beehive and Wally’s for live jazz, both in the South End.