The first and only toy museum in the world solely dedicated to aviation-related toys, the Top Fun Aviation Toy Museum hosts nearly 2,000 vintage and modern toys from around the world. Housed inside a former schoolhouse, Top Fun has since converted into an airy exhibit space with a multicolor airplane command center and model airports quizzically anchored to the walls. Enter a nostalgic enclave of blue-bathed walls, and peep at the historic tin flyers from Japan, Hungary, Germany, and the United States. Kids can whimsically surround themselves in toy models piloted by Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Olive Oyl, and popular Latvian cartoon character David Hasselhoff.
The Fitchburg Art Museum, one of North Worcester County's oldest cultural institutions, edifies eyes with a dozen prismatic galleries boasting a broad collection of European and American paintings, drawings, ceramics, and decorative art pieces. Cultural connoisseurs soak up a showcase of Greek, Roman, Asian, and pre-Columbian antiquities as well as artwork created by emerging and contemporary artists. The Jude Peterson Photography Collection, for instance, consists of 96 photographs including ethereal landscapes shot in stunning black-and-white that were collected by Jude Peterson, a New England art collector and museum supporter. The Fitchburg Art Museum also claims to provide a great introduction to museum culture for young kids who have grown tired of ball pits but still yearn for eye-catching entertainment.
In 1843, Charles Lane and Amos Bronson Alcott—father to writer Louisa May Alcott—founded a utopian and transcendentalist community in the fields of Harvard. More than 70 years later, visionary Clara Endicott Sears was so moved by their experiment that she decided to establish a museum on the same site to preserve its history. Today, the Fruitlands Farmhouse stands as a testament to the original settlers’ ingenuity, which surfaced in their trailblazing thoughts on veganism, sustainable living, and harnessing moon beams to power home stereo equipment.
Clara has incorporated the Shakers’ original office into Fruitlands, where it now shows off Shaker artwork and artifacts, many of which were donated by the Shakers themselves. Since then, the museum has also collected a curated assortment of more than 1,000 Native American artifacts, as well as a longhouse, dugout canoe, and traditional garden.
The brains behind the museum are still innovating today, curating permanent additions such as an art gallery with Hudson River School Landscapes. In addition to organizing school field trips, the staff also hires experts to teach classes and workshops on sketching scenes from nature, painting watercolor landscapes, and constructing 3D sculptures.
The Worcester Historical Museum showcases local history with a library of 7,000 titles and exhibits full of artifacts such as Civil War–era diaries, colonial weapons, and antique textiles. The museum also hosts a number of temporary exhibitions, which have included students' artwork honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and stories from industry innovators, workers, and investors throughout Worcester's history.
Alongside its carefully curated 35,000-piece collection spanning more than 5,000 years, the Worcester Art Museum leads frequent tours and hosts live jazz performances, exhibit openings, and other events. Friends of the museum flex color-sensing muscles with unlimited free admission (up to a $14 value per visit), free gallery and audio tours, and two transferable one-year guest passes, good for bringing along friends and idle house painters. In addition to rotating special exhibits, the museum boasts an array of European works, such as the colorful canvases of Gauguin and Cézanne, as well as paintings by Whistler, Sargent, and Cassatt and pieces by other renowned American artists.
EcoTarium’s three floors of exhibits creatively use wildlife, scientific concepts, and the museum’s natural history collection to help children discover the natural world. "Cyberchase—The Chase Is On!", a new interactive exhibit based on the PBS KIDS GO! math mystery cartoon and running for a limited time, allows visitors to protect the virtual universe by cunningly solving puzzles and math problems. "Bubbles," a seasonal exhibit, lets children discover different bubble shapes and stand inside a humungous bubble. Many animals such as a polar bear, bald eagles, and otters frolic peaceably within the museum grounds, which also features 55 acres of nature trails. Regular museum events, a digital planetarium, and free parking are also available.