With its lofty ceilings, slate floors, natural wood beams, and floor-to-ceiling windows that give sunlight some rare exposure to high culture, the building that houses the Fuller Craft Museum is itself a work of art. The 21,000-square-foot structure is surrounded by a 22-acre campus, which is itself surrounded by some 700 acres of woodland. It's a place to easily lose an afternoon in exploration and contemplation.
Across this wide-open space, creativity flows naturally. Exhibitions, galleries, and workshops showcase the mesmerizing craftsmanship of woodworking, sculpture, bookmaking, and many other forms, exploring the materials, techniques, and expression poured into each piece. Interactive attractions draw visitors deeper into the creative process. Letterboxing, for instance, challenges them to search the property for hidden treasures by following clues instead of just lazily asking a neighborhood pirate.
Animal Planet's top wildlife diplomat Jeff Corwin was the driving force behind the EcoZone, which gives museum-goers an unmatched interactive look at southeastern Massachusetts' ecosystems with meticulously recreated versions of the wetlands, woodlands, and meadows. The woodland area boasts a life-sized replica of a red maple tree that sits above a turtle and frog pond, where endearing amphibians and their reptile counterparts entrance audiences as they munch on vegetation, swim at a turtle's pace, and compete to see who can croak their way through the entire Greek alphabet. Little kids can watch the wildlife from peepholes inside the hollow log that connects both ponds. Likewise, the meadow includes a charming wood bridge and complete absence of unseen hunters gunning for Bambi's mom. The EcoZone provides shelter for a menagerie of local creatures, including raccoons, an albino rat snake, a garter snake, and an eastern box turtle—and it's not limited solely to day-dwellers. The EcoZone's Night Time exhibit lets future forest preservationists take an up-close look into what the world's nocturnal population does regularly, even if it is mostly just hanging out in diners in Edward Hopper paintings. Additionally, the South Shore Science Center has six outdoor trails featuring Story Walks that tell tales on signs as you walk along.
Part playground and part museum, Our World Children's Global Discovery Museum welcomes kids ages 1–6 to explore the natural sciences and human history with all of their senses. Here, kids can step into the boots of a boat captain and guide the newest nautical portion of the playground, The Ship. The interactive boat encourages wee ones to try their hands as fishermen, hauling traps and nets, and to explore new species in the touchable coral-reef display. Throughout the year, the ship captivates kids' imaginations with a new theme and historical event or location.
Other exhibits give kids the chance to conduct tiny trains or take to the stage in the theater area. For more structured learning, the museum hosts classes in everything from making music to painting to cooking meals, a vital skill in winning any game of house.
Hunakai Studio of Fine Art combines the study of past masters with plenty of hands-on art-making experience for students of all ages. Instructors teach students to sculpt in clay, paint and draw, or generate digital images with 3D design programs and tablets. They lead studies into the iconic images of Renaissance painters, the drawings of famed cartoonists, and the murals of prolific graffiti artists. They do this all while keeping class sizes small, with no more than eight students per instructor. This lets the teachers customize lessons to students' needs, helping pupils progress at their own pace instead of racing to keep up with that overachiever Suzy Collins.
In 1949, the USS Salem began its 10-year career patrolling the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. A flagship of the 6th Fleet during the Cold War era, it served as a “Lady of Diplomacy,” using its massive canons to impress ambassadors, not to fire on enemies. The ship also made headlines in 1953 when it harbored refugees from Greece following a massive earthquake.
Today permanently docked in Quincy Fore River Shipyard, the Salem is one of the last preserved naval heavy cruisers in the world. Three quarters of the ship is used to honor the history of those who served, with features including a Navy SEALs exhibit, the USS Newport News Memorial Room, and a US Navy Cruiser Sailor Memorial. In addition to memories, the Salem also hosts birthday parties and overnight adventures filled with simulated battles and real-life survival instruction. If they listen closely, visitors might even hear some of the spooky sounds that earned the ship a feature on the SyFy channel’s Ghost Hunters in 2009.
It didn’t take long for Robert Bennet Forbes to make a name for himself. He was made a captain by the age of 20, and he quickly amassed wealth and influence as a China Trade Merchant. And despite becoming one of the country’s most prominent businessmen, Captain Forbes still found time to design ships, write, and build an estate that would make Scrooge McDuck molt with envy. Along with his brother John, the Captain commissioned a Greek Revival mansion to be built in 1883. The house was intended for their mother, but over the decades, it would become home to many members of the entrepreneurial family—who collected four generations worth of paintings, artifacts, and various artwork.
Perched atop Milton Hill, the mansion—now a National Historic Landmark called the Forbes House Museum—transports visitors back to key moments in American history. In one part of the house lies memorabilia focused on President Lincoln and the Civil War, collected by the Captain's granddaughter Mary Bowditch Forbes. Her passion for that time period was so strong, she even had a replica of Lincoln's birthplace built on the museum's grounds. Other rooms showcase the valuable Chinese exports collected by the Captain. Sitting atop a table of Cantonese marble and hand-carved rosewood is the crown jewel of this collection, the Election Bowl, a porcelain vessel adorned with two Forbes family crests and two depictions of Scottish castles. In addition to tours, the mansion also hosts various cultural events, including a monthly roundtable discussion on the Civil War.