A new exhibit at the State House this week features materials and artifacts that illustrate the official symbols of Massachusetts.
From animals and plants to food and drink, literature, music, sports, and even people, the list of official state symbols is an offbeat collection, with each item approved over the years by the state Legislature and codified in state law.
How does something become an official state symbol? Through the right of free petition, anyone living in Massachusetts can ask to have a law passed, according to the State Library, which compiled the exhibit.
Many suggestions come from enthusiastic classes of schoolchildren, who work with lawmakers to craft and sign a petition to the Legislature. Such bills must go through public hearings in the House and Senate, which must sign off before sending the proposal to the governor’s desk.
Think you know even the wackiest of Massachusetts state symbols? Take the quiz below to test your knowledge.
Keep in mind that the quiz above doesn’t include every official state symbol. We left off some quirky ones, such as the official state fossil (the dinosaur track) and the official state folk dance (square dancing).
There are also a dozen proposals now being considered by the Legislature. Among them are suggestions for an official state rock song (“Roadrunner” by the Modern Lovers?) and a battle over what should be the official shellfish (oyster versus quahog).
To see the full list of approved and proposed state symbols, you can visit the exhibit in person — it is located outside of the main library in Room 341 of the State House and will run through Dec. 31 — or check out an online version, which is available here.Matt Rocheleau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele.