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The Friday Five: Great Innovation-Oriented Museums in New England

Posted by Scott Kirsner  August 14, 2009 07:16 AM

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exploringspace.jpgEvery Friday, I serve up a list of five things worth knowing about.

This week, it's great museums with a focus on technology, science, and innovation around New England. After all, it's mid-August, the kids are out of school for a few more weeks, you may have out-of-town guests, you may be traveling. Why not soak up some air-conditioned learnin'?

- Museum of Science, Boston, MA. Juggling, 3-D digital cinema, laser shows, a Paul MacCready human-powered aircraft, a hands-on computer lab, and a Van de Graaff lightening generator. You could easily spend a weekend here...

- MIT Museum, Cambridge, MA. Home to amazing permanent exhibits about mobile robots and holograms. Also displays the enchanting mechanical artwork of Arthur Ganson.

- Lowell National Historical Park, Lowell, MA. Lowell's sprawling textile mills represent one of the epicenters of the Industrial Revolution in America.

- Connecticut Science Center, Hartford, CT. New England's newest science museum, with exhibits on healthy eating, clean energy, space, and sound. Plus, live shows about climate change and aerodynamics.

- The Owls Head Transportation Museum, Owls Head, ME. Cars, bikes, planes, boats, carriages: just about every mode of transport is accounted for here. It's a special treat to be at Owls Head for one of their big events, like an antique auto auction or an airshow. (Two runners-up in the transportation category: Heritage Museum's galleries of guns and antique autos, on Cape Cod, and the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.)

What other museums are on your must-visit list?

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3 comments so far...
  1. The Boott Cotton Mills Museum at Lowell National Historical Park is fee-free this weekend as part of a National Park Service-wide fee free event. For more information see

    Thank you for the mention of the Park's resources!

    Posted by Sue Andrews August 14, 09 04:20 PM
  1. Don't forget our host for Mass Innovation Nights -- The Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation on Moody Street in Waltham. Some new exhibits coming --- keep an eye on

    Posted by Bobbie Carlton August 15, 09 08:45 AM
  1. I would add The Boston Fed's Economic Adventure to your list Scott, and put MIT and Museum of Science as tied for first. There are a good number of smaller displays, e.g. MGH's Ether Dome, Harvard Med's top floor, Dana-Farber, etc. which are really worth seeing. Greater Boston is like a big dispersed innovation museum.

    Posted by Bob Krim August 17, 09 03:18 PM


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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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