A visit to the Museum of Natural History & Planetarium will take you on a journey to discover the world around you and beyond. Open since 1896, the museum houses natural history and cultural collections, from local sources and from around the world. Aside from the main exhibits and housing the state's only public planetarium, the museum features programs as well as scientific and cultural events aimed at children, adults, families, and scouts, thus living up to its reputation as "The People's University."
From its unobstructed perch directly on the bay, the Herreshoff Marine Museum showcases a vast sampling of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company’s historic fleet of power and sailing yachts. Herreshoff helped usher in the early 20th-century's golden age of yachting, building eight consecutive America’s Cup winners before constructing the first torpedo boats for the U.S. Navy, which until that point had relied on splashing the enemy’s vessels whenever the lifeguard wasn’t looking. A family membership grants two adults and up to four children free year-round access to 60 classic yachts, plus steam engines, fittings, photographs, and memorabilia. Members also get to wander the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, which honors the inductees of yachting’s premier competition.
Named as one of New England’s top five public gardens in Yankee magazine, Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum spans 33 acres of lawns, gardens, trees, and historic stone structures. Through October 3, Blithewold is celebrating the seasonal color scheme with Autumn Splendor, a festival that includes access to colorful grounds (daily) and the more than a century-old mansion (Wednesday–Sunday), plus free children’s story time for children to read encyclopedia entries to each other (Friday at 11 a.m.).
Serving the southern New England area for more than 30 years, the Providence Children's Museum allows parents and children to educationally interact with each other through two floors of hands-on exhibits and programs that help children discover art, culture, history, and science. In Bone Zone, tots can attempt to put together a life-sized skeleton puzzle, older siblings can examine the inside of a bone through a microscope, and parents are kindly fed answers to their kids' questions by the friendly staff. Downstairs, families can explore the science of fluid dynamics, building mazes and fountains that teach the fundamentals of water flow and pressure, while artists of tomorrow can go upstairs to Shape Space, where magnetic shapes and wooden blocks can be used to increase knowledge of spatial relationships by building three-dimensional models of Pat Boone's four-car garage.
More than 25,000 artifacts, 100,000 printed items, 400,000 historic maps and photographs, and 9 million feet of motion-picture film. Founded in 1822, the Rhode Island Historical Society chronicles the past of its native state with an expansive collection, film screenings, special presentations, and other weekly events. In addition to these programs, the organization keeps local history alive at its three historic sites. Visitors can embark on guided or self-guided explorations of the 18th-century John Brown House Museum—a registered National Historic Landmark—as well as the library, which houses the society's collections. The Rhode Island Historical Society also oversees the Museum of Work and Culture, where exhibits recount the social, cultural, and economic history of northern Rhode Island through the 20th century.
RISD Museum’s first public galleries were brought to life in 1893, and since then, the museum has become a powerhouse of creativity. Hosting a collection of 84,000 objects of fine, decorative art from eras both ancient and modern, the museum entices eyes with multitudes of exhibits and collections. With admission to the museum’s galleries, which are spread throughout five buildings, artoholics get a day to explore indoors and avoid the sun during fall, when it is a mere 75 feet from Earth's surface.
When the Newport Historical Society and the Newport Restoration Foundation joined forces, the result was Newport History Tours. Founded to celebrate the region’s rich and vibrant history, Newport History Tours designed more than a dozen tours that explore the city’s landmarks, historic sites, and more than 300 pre-Revolutionary War–era buildings. The tours touch on just about every aspect of the city’s past, with themes that range from the colonial era and Golden Age to prohibition smuggling, historical criminals, and lantern-lit holiday strolls.