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 Amherst College?owned Emily Dickinson Museum preserves the memory and work of the poet and hyphen master by maintaining the estate where she lived and composed many of her nearly 1,800 poems. The museum includes The Homestead, her birthplace and longtime residence, which stands near The Evergreens, where her brother, Austin, lived with his family. Emily and her siblings were all avid gardeners, cultivating flowers and hedges throughout their 3-acre estate. Emily herself maintained a conservatory for her collection of exotic plants, and she drew endless inspiration from her natural surroundings for her work.
The Emily Dickinson Museum welcomes field trips for groups of students and schedules events throughout the year to celebrate her poetry and role in American literary history. Interactive poetry discussion groups meet at various Amherst locations, keeping Dickinson's style relevant by communicating only in rhyming quatrains.
Baby goats and calves lounge on straw in a petting zoo while wolves and black bears frolic just yards away. It's not a radical experiment in natural selection, though; it's just part of the varied attractions at Charmingfare Farm. After taking in the entire zoo?from pigs to camels?guests can avail themselves of such diversions as trail rides atop one of the farm's friendly horses. Horse-drawn hayrides and sleigh ride socials culminate in a stop at a roaring bonfire where guests can cook all the hotdogs and 'smores they've captured in the wild.