Museum of Science (Boston)

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Museum of Science, Boston
Museum of Science (Boston) is located in Boston
Location within Boston
Established 1830
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°22′04″N 71°04′16″W / 42.367778°N 71.070997°W / 42.367778; -71.070997Coordinates: 42°22′04″N 71°04′16″W / 42.367778°N 71.070997°W / 42.367778; -71.070997
Type Science museum
Visitors 1.5 million [1]
Director Ioannis Miaoulis
Public transit access Science Park/West End Station, MBTA

The Museum of Science (MoS) is a Boston, Massachusetts landmark, located in Science Park, a plot of land spanning the Charles River. Along with over 500 interactive exhibits, the Museum features a number of live presentations throughout the building every day, along with shows at the Charles Hayden Planetarium and the Mugar Omni IMAX theater, the only domed IMAX screen in New England. The Museum is also an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is home to over 100 animals, many of which have been rescued and rehabilitated from various dangerous situations. The Museum is also one of the city's three bases of operations for Boston's privately operated Duck Tours.


History [edit]

Photo of the original lock for the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts as bordered by Nashua Street Park on the south and Museum of Science, Boston to the north and positioned just west of the Charles River Dam Bridge.
The Mugar Omni Theater.
The New England Habitats Exhibit.
A Decavitator hanging above the main entrance lobby of the museum.
The giant van-de-Graaff generator in the Boston science museum.
The Museum's Blue Wing Exhibits.

The Museum began as the Boston Society of Natural History in 1830, founded by a collection of men who wished to share scientific interests. In 1864, after the Society had gone through several temporary facilities, a building was purchased in the Back Bay area of the city and dubbed the "New England Museum of Natural History." It was more commonly called the Boston Museum of Natural History in the 19th century, and this name occurs frequently in the literature. A great deal of scientific work was done, especially around geology, and the results of this work can be found in the Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History which are now freely available online. A library and children's rooms were added to the Museum around 1900. It was renamed the Museum of Science in 1939, under a dynamic new Director.[2]

The Boston Museum of Natural History of 1830/1864-1945 is not to be confused with the private Warren Museum of Natural History (1858-1906, in Chestnut Street). The contents of the latter, including the first intact mastadon, were removed to the American Museum of Natural History of New York City in 1906.

After World War II, the Museum of Science building was sold, and the museum was reestablished elsewhere, again under the name "Boston Museum of Science". Under the leadership of Bradford Washburn, the Society negotiated with the Metropolitan District Commission for a 99-year lease of the land now known as Science Park. The Museum pays $1 a year to the state for use of the land. Construction and development began in 1948, and the Museum opened in 1951, arguably the first all-encompassing science museum in the country. In these first few years, the Museum developed a traveling planetarium, a version of which is still brought to many elementary schools in the Greater Boston area every year. They also obtained during these early years "Spooky," a great horned owl who became a symbol or mascot of the Museum; he lived to age 38, the longest any great horned owl is known to have lived. Today, a number of other taxidermed specimens remain on display, teaching children about the animals of New England and of the world.

The Science Park/West End MBTA station was opened in 1956, and the Charles Hayden Planetarium in 1958.

Many more expansions continued into the 1970s and 1980s. In 1999, The Computer Museum in Boston closed and became part of the Museum of Science, integrating some of its displays, although the collection moved to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.[3]

A major renovation and expansion took place during 2005 and 2006. In 2010, the Charles Hayden Planetarium was closed for renovation.[4]

Exhibit Halls [edit]

Blue Wing [5]
  • Butterfly Garden
  • Seeing is Deceiving
  • Making Models
  • Mathematica
  • Theater of Electricity
  • Innovative Engineers
  • Investigate!
  • Nanotechnology
  • Take a Closer Look
  • Dinosaurs
  • Machines & Transportation
  • Living on the Edge
  • To the Moon
  • Cahners Computer Place
Green Wing
  • New England Habitats
  • A Bird's World
  • Colby Room
Red Wing
  • Mugar Omni Theater
  • Charles Hayden Planetarium
  • Cosmic Light
  • Discovery Center
  • Natural Mysteries
  • Audio-kinetic Sculpture

Live Presentations [edit]

The Museum offers many free live presentations to the visitors including:[6]

  • Behind the Headline

Explores the an exciting science and technology story that's in the news.

  • Behind the Headline- An Uncertain Climate

Look at recent climate study, talk about uncertainties surrounding climate science, and discuss how to make better choices for our planet.

  • Hands-On Laboratory

Encourages visitors of all ages to explore a variety of topics in science.

  • Design Challenges

Introduce visitors to the engineering design cycle.

  • Lightning!

Indoor bolts are produced by world's largest Van de Graaff generator including talk on lightning, electric charge, and storm safety.

  • Live Animal Presentation

Explore the adaptation, behaviors, ecology, and environments of animals with the museum's animal residents.

  • Science Live!

Talk about live scientific discoveries

  • Science Magic

Science will recreate some of your favorite magic tricks.

  • Science Snapshot

Latest scientific and technological developments in our lives are talked about.

Historical exhibits [edit]

  • In the 1950s, a small Wilson cloud chamber was featured in the main entrance hall. Visitors could come within inches of radioactive material to watch the vapor trails of the particles they emitted.
  • The first Fresnel lens used in a lighthouse in the U.S. (Navesink lighthouse), was on display from the early 1950s until 1979.
  • From August to October 2004, the Museum was host to the U.S. premiere of The Lord of the Rings the Motion Picture Trilogy the Exhibition, developed by the Te Papa museum in New Zealand, and containing many of the costumes and props from the films.
  • "Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds 2: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies" was at the Museum of Science from July 29, 2006 to January 7, 2007.
  • From October 25, 2009 - February 21, 2010, "Harry Potter The Exhibition" was at the museum.[7]
Museum of Science on the Charles, January 2008

Computing section [edit]

A disk containing the source code for the Morris Worm was located in the museum's Computing Revolution exhibit.

which is no longer at the museum.

Although the history artifacts of "The Computer Museum" were moved to Silicon Valley and forms the current Computer History Museum, TCM educational exhibits and objects were transferred to the Boston Museum of Science where two new computing and technology exhibits were created. One, The Computing Revolution, relates the history of computing through a variety of hands-on interactive exhibits, while the other, Cahners Computer Place, houses displays ranging from educational video games to an interactive AIBO ERS-7.

Other attractions [edit]

  • The Museum's Theater of Electricity contains the world's largest Van de Graaff generator, designed by Dr. Robert J. Van de Graaff himself and donated by MIT in 1956.
  • The Current Science & Technology Center's live presentations are in a constant state of development, keeping up with the cutting edge of science & technology news, and offering several very informative and interesting "Updates in Science & Technology" presentations every day. CS&T presentations are also often aired on New England Cable News (NECN). A CS&T podcast is also available for updates on-the-go.
  • The Museum has developed a to-scale community solar system model that spans as far as the Riverside MBTA station (in Newton, Massachusetts). The models of the Sun, Mercury and Venus are located on the Museum grounds.
  • The Museum of Science built and designed its own film-based exhibit, entitled Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination. It was on display there from October 2005 to April 2006. The exhibit is now traveling.
  • The MIT Daedalus human-powered aircraft hangs in the entry lobby of the museum as does Decavitator, MIT's human-powered high-speed boat.
  • Design Challenges, a hands on engineering program, offers different activities, depending on the day, that deal with solving a variety of problems.
  • The Discovery Center ( offers parents the opportunity to talk with cognitive scientists, for kids to participate in experiments, and everyone to learn through inquiry and play.
  • Construction began on a rooftop Wind Turbine Lab in 2009.[8] The Lab will test nine wind turbines from five different manufacturers on the roof of the Museum. An exhibit in the Blue Wing, Catching the Wind, includes a live data stream on how much electricity each turbine is producing.
  • Across from the Museum's gift shop lies a 24-hour Foucault pendulum.
  • The museum offers a "Camp-In" program to students in grades 1-7 allowing them to spend a night at the museum.
  • There is a simulator ride near the musical stairs.

See also [edit]

References [edit]

External links [edit]