Theater & art

Clocks, cars, toilets: There’s a museum for almost anything

From top: A vintage Corvette at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum,, and an Arthur Morris photograph of Northern gannets at the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon.
From top: A vintage Corvette at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum,, and an Arthur Morris photograph of Northern gannets at the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon.

Sure, you can take in the classics at the MFA, or contemporary art at the ICA. But why stop there? In these parts, museums come in all shapes and sizes and appeal to all sorts of interests. Birds, toilets, cars, snowmobiles, bad art, great medicine — these are just a few of the subjects that have entire museums dedicated to them. We rounded up a slew of them for your learning pleasure.

PAUL S. RUSSELL, MD MUSEUM OF MEDICAL HISTORY AND INNOVATION Massachusetts General Hospital main campus, 2 North Grove St., Boston, 617-724-8009,

Features past and present tools used in surgeries such as amputations. Artifacts include an incubator made out of automobile parts, an ether inhaler, 19th-century surgical kits, and machines used to generate electric shocks.

Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon
An Arthur Morris photograph of Northern gannets at the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon.


963 Washington St., Canton, 781-821-8853,

The only conservation organization that has a museum of bird art and is dedicated fully to bird art, this place includes an Arthur Morris photography exhibit and a small gallery on the art of Elmer Crowell, the most famous American decoy carver (1862-1952).

CHARLES RIVER MUSEUM OF INDUSTRY AND INNOVATION Watches and Clocks Exhibit 154 Moody St., Waltham, 781-893-5410,


The Watches and Clocks Exhibit has the largest public collection of Waltham watches in the world. It also has a few working machines and a watchmaker’s bench.

LARZ ANDERSON AUTO MUSEUM 15 Newton St., Brookline, 617-522-6547,

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This beautiful 64-acre park holds 24 lawn events each year, often featuring gorgeous German, Italian, and British automobiles from years and decades past.

3011 Whitney Ave., Hamden, 203-582-6500,

This museum not only showcases first-rate Irish art, but also tells the whole story of the Great Hunger, which lasted from 1845-53. The potato blight was only a small part of the famine.

THE MUSEUM OF PRINTING800 Massachusetts Ave., North Andover, 978-686-0450,

It has the largest collection of rare printing presses in the country, according to Frank Romano, president of the museum. There are also woodcuts by Mark Fowler and Anna Hogan, and a collection of rare typewriters.

DESIGN MUSEUM BOSTON Factory 63 — 63 Melcher St., Boston, 617-600-8204,

This museum isn’t in just one location but three. Aside from Factory 63, there’s the “Street Seats’’ exhibition at Fort Point Channel. The third component, “Getting There: Design for Travel in the Modern Age,’’ is located at Logan Airport.



This museum is the largest edge tool museum in the country. It unites tools and their history and incorporates tools into art — tools that come from all around New England.

THE WEST END MUSEUM Current exhibition: The Parkman–Webster Murder Case

150 Staniford St., Suite 7, Boston, 617-723-2125,

The Parkman-Webster Murder Case Exhibition follows the 19th-century trial of John White Webster, a professor of chemistry and geology at Harvard Medical College, who was accused of murdering Dr. George Parkman, a wealthy Beacon Hill businessman.

New Bedford Whaling Museum
A scrimshaw mermaid at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

NEW BEDFORD WHALING MUSEUM 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, 508-997-0046,

The New Bedford Whaling Museum has the largest collection of scrimshaw in the world as well as the largest ship model. It also has five fully articulated whale skeletons, including a skeleton of a highly endangered North Atlantic right whale that was pregnant, along with the fetus’s skeleton. Wear sneakers, this museum takes up a whole city block.

AMERICAN TEXTILE HISTORY MUSEUM 491 Dutton St., Lowell, 978-441-0400,

The textile museum has a popular exhibit pertaining to baseballs. Huh? What do baseballs have to do with a textile museum? Baseballs are made with wool. Wool helps the baseball keep its shape after Big Papi hits it against the Green Monster.

A baseball exhibit at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell.

MUSEUM OF BAD ART Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville; Brookline Access Television, 46 Tappan St., Brookline; Brookline Village Station, 2 Brookline Place, Brookline; 781-444-6757,

Don’t get caught up with the name of this museum. It may be about bad art but it stands for something deeper. The art this museum showcases was made with good intentions even if the end result was not a masterpiece in the classic sense. Not everybody can be Monet, after all.

THE AMERICAN SANITARY PLUMBING MUSEUM 80 Rosedale Road, Watertown, 617-926-2111,


This museum is quite unique with its antiques. One new artifact is a $5,000 toilet that includes an iPod dock, a heated seat, a self-cleaning system, and a remote control. Naturally.

NEW HAMPSHIRE SNOWMOBILE MUSEUM ASSOCIATION Bear Brook State Park, Allenstown, 603-809-8700,

There are 33 different brands of machines for over-the-snow transportation and about 90 sleds on display. The oldest sled is from 1953. And it has the very first Ski-Doo, which is not only the very first one sold in New Hampshire but also the 10th one ever made.

Vanessa Fernandes can be reached at