THE OVERLOOKED AND UNEXPECTED MUSEUMS OF MASSACHUSETTS

Travel around the state for the most unconventional and rare collections in the country

BOSTON – February 18, 2014 – Massachusetts is renowned for some of the world’s most respected and beloved art and science museums.  But the Bay State is also home to museums celebrating beer cans, burnt food, and “bad art,” among many other eccentric collections.

Whereas Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and Museum of Science are iconic, must-see attractions, a trip outside of the city can lead you to lesser-known, and sometimes, unusual museum collections including Russian icons in Clinton, the world’s largest collection of the “world’s smallest man’s” belongings in Middleborough, and contemporary art tucked away in many of the state’s suburbs and coastal towns. Massachusetts is home to some of the most unique and well-preserved museums in the country.

For the Art Lover

Fitchburg Museum of Art (Fitchburg)

The Fitchburg Museum of Art (FAM) was built in 1925 in the north central part of the state with over 20,000 square feet of exhibition space. FAM plays a vital role in the cultural life of the region. Area schools, community groups and artist organizations are featured in FAM’s Community Gallery. Wander throughout the four buildings to find galleries of regional contemporary art, 19th century American art, American photography, African art, Greek and Roman art, and Egyptian art. The Egyptian collection is presented in an interactive gallery designed for families and school groups. FitchburgArtMuseum.org

Danforth Museum of Art (Framingham)

Focusing on American works from 18th century to present day, Danforth Art is dedicated to showing contemporary pieces by both emerging and established artists, as well as an exploration of the School of Boston Expressionism. Over 3,500 works of art live within the walls of Danforth Art offering opportunities to explore artistic forms of expression such as the permanent Pueblo Katsina doll exhibit. Danforthart.org

 New Bedford Art Museum (New Bedford)

As is the case with many of this coastal town’s businesses, the New Bedford Art Museum lives inside of a building that was formerly a bank. The South Coast is rich in culture, history and diversity, displayed through its art museum. It opened in 1996 and is a fixture in downtown New Bedford.  Museum exhibits change three times a year, displaying works from both local and international artists. Newbedfordartmuseum.org

Fuller Craft Museum (Brockton)

Fuller Craft Museum, New England’s only museum of contemporary craft, is dedicated to the objects, ideas and insight that inspire both patrons and artists to explore life through the art of contemporary craft. The Museum lives by the motto: Let the Art Touch You. Fullercraft.org

Additional art collections to see…

Addison Gallery of American Art (Andover)

Davis Museum at Wellesley College (Wellesley)

For the Collector

Larz Anderson Auto Museum (Brookline)

See America’s oldest car collection spawned from a Sunday tradition started by wealthy socialites Larz and Isabel Anderson at their Brookline, MA home. The Andersons opened their doors to their spectacular Carriage House on Sunday afternoons to share their collection of American and European vehicles. The collection began with an 1899 Winton 4-hp Runabout and grew until 1948. The Andersons purchased an automobile nearly every year, acquiring 32 brand new motorcars, 14 of which remain in the museum’s collection, alongside horse-drawn carriages. larzanderson.org

Spellman Museum of Stamps (Weston)

This museum strives to help visitors understand worldwide history and geography through the study of stamps, letters and other artifacts of communication through the mail. Founded in 1960, the museum united the collections of Francis Cardinal Spellman Archbishop of New York, and the National Philatelic Museum in Philadelphia. The Spellman Museum is one of two public museums in the country devoted to stamps and postal history. The second is the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum in Washington D.C. Spellman.org

The Museum of Russian Icons (Clinton)

The largest private collection of Russian Icons and artifacts outside of Russia lives in this museum founded in 2006. Spanning six centuries, the collection includes important historical paintings dating from the earliest periods of icon writing to the present. Gordon B. Lankton, the museum’s founder, was a collector and partner in a small plastic manufacturing company. One of his factories was located in Russia where he frequently visited and fell in love with the culture and history. MuseumofRussianIcons.org

For the Historian

Concord Museum (Concord)

One of the oldest collections of Americana in the country and the largest collection of Thoreau-related objects in the world exists inside The Concord Museum. Concord is a small town with a big history where the “shot heard round the world” was fired. Find Native American stone tools, Revolutionary War artifacts, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s study and Henry David Thoreau’s bed, desk and chair from Walden Pond. Concordmuseum.org

Fruitlands Museum (Harvard)

Fruitlands Museum is home to four historic buildings of art and history including Bronson Alcott’s Fruitlands farmhouse, the country’s first Shaker Museum, the Native American Museum and the Art Gallery.  The museum is sited on 210 sprawling acres with a spectacular view shed. Take a snack break at Fruitlands Museum Café, shop at the Museum Store or hike along 2.5 miles of walking trails. Fruitlands.org

Middleborough Historical Museum (Middleborough)

The Middleborough Historical Museum houses the world’s largest collection of belongings of “the world’s smallest man.” Inside are the child-sized clothing and tiny personal items of Charles Sherwood Stratton, the 19th-century general better known as Tom Thumb. MiddleboroughHistoricalAssociation.org

Additional historical collections to see…

Charles River Museum Industry and Innovation

New Bedford Whaling Museum

Museum of Antiquated Technology

For Something Truly Unusual

Plumbing Museum (Watertown)

The newly restored Plumbing Museum attracts plumbers, tradesmen and curious visitors. A unique, trade-specific take on American history juxtaposes early examples of plumbing equipment with modern fixtures and techniques. In 2008, the museum was relocated from Worcester, MA. It stands as a tribute to the plumbers, engineers and inventors whose hard work and creative spirit have contributed to our society. Theplumbingmuseum.org

Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) (Somerville and Brookline)

In the basement of the Somerville Theatre and the lobby of Brookline Access Television, find pieces in the MOBA collection that range from the work of talented artists gone awry to works of artists barely in control of the brush. This is the world’s only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation and exhibition of bad art in all its forms. Museumofbadart.org

Burnt Food Museum (Arlington)

In the late 1980s, Deborah Henson-Conant, the curator of this museum heated and scalded hot apple cider, which became the inspiration for its opening. Explore exhibits like “Thrice Baked Potato” or “Why Sure, You Can Bake Quiche in the Microwave.” Rather than scolding yourself for burning your dinner, celebrate it as the museum does. burntfoodmuseum.com

 Beer Can Museum (East Taunton)

The Beer Can Museum is a collection of more than 5,000 different beer cans, along with beer can folk art and crafts, beer can clothing, beer can telephones and literature. Cans date back to the mid-1930s allowing visitors to watch the evolution of brews and their packaging. Beercanmuseum.org

Public Health Museum (Tewksbury)

Air Sickness Bag Virtual Museum (Hull)

About MOTT:

The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT) is the state agency dedicated to promoting Massachusetts as a leisure-travel destination. An integral part of the state’s economy, tourism generates close to $1 billion in state and local taxes and $16.9 billion in travel related expenditures, supporting 124,700 in-state jobs. massvacation.com

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 For more information, contact:

Lisa Simmons, Director of Communications

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

617-973-8508

lisa.simmons@state.ma.us

or

Molly Kravitz, Public Relations Manager

Connelly Partners

Mobile # 317-919-5252 ~ Office # 617-521-5431

mkravitz@connellypartners.com