I thought it might be nice to share a glimpse of my academic and future professional world with you. The museums listed here are some of my favorites, for various reasons. Some of them are obvious choices, but others are small, hidden treasures. Most of them have warranted multiple visits, and are places I know I will continue to return to, year after year.
I plan to keep adding to this list.
I’ll start off with home sweet home, of course!
- The Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor
A Smithsonian affiliate, the Abbe Museum is focused on “inspiring new learning about the Wabanaki Nations.” The downtown Bar Harbor location is bright, open, and beautiful (seriously, it’s a great interior), and the original trailside building at Sieur de Monts Spring is open spring through fall. This Museum has an active relationship with its community, and I like that a lot.
- Portland Museum of Art, Portland
- The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
During my year at MassArt (a stone’s throw away from the MFA), the Museum’s Asian and Islamic art galleries served as a second home. The MFA has expanded quite a bit since my original visits in 2003, and remains one of my favorite art museums.
- The New England Aquarium, Boston
- The Woodman Institute, Dover
I have to mention The Woodman Institute in Dover, New Hampshire, because it’s such an unexpected local gem. The main Museum building is home to both an extensive mineral and taxidermy collection, including what happens to be known as the last eastern cougar ever captured in the state of New Hampshire (circa 1853). There are also a couple great Victorian mourning pieces in the collections at The Hale House. This is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.
- The Fairbanks Museum, Saint Johnsbury
The Fairbanks Museum is special because it occupies a large space in my memories of childhood. The building itself is spectacular, and the collections are typical of the late 19th century. The Fairbanks is (unexpectedly) home to the entire collection of John Hampson’s “Bug Art” mosaics, which I was obsessed with as child. The Museum’s display cases are brimming. Take your time with this one.
- The Shelburne Museum, Shelburne
Shelburne Museum requires a full day, at least. I have been 20 times over the years (probably), and I always discover something new.
The Smithsonian Museums seem like such an obvious choice, but they are really spectacular. The Freer and Sackler galleries house the Smithsonian collection of Asian art, and should be included on any “must visit” list. They stand out among everything we saw on our first visit to the city. On my second (solo) visit to DC in 2013, I visited the National Museum of American History and wept over Julia Childs’ copper pots. I’m a little sensitive. You can read about that trip here.
We visited the National Postal Museum on that first trip to DC in 2012, strictly so I could see Owney, but it ended up being a surprising gem of a site.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Do you have a favorite museum? Tell me your recommendations.
Thanks for stopping by. My name is Naomi, and this space is made of girldust. This blog is a picture of my comfortably scattered life on the coast of Maine. I'm trying to be a slightly better version of myself every day. I like old houses, reading, the ocean, ghost stories, and museums. You can learn a little bit more about me here.