As a painter, Eleanor Norcross took Paris by storm with works exhibited in art capitals almost annually from 1866 until her death in 1923. She never lost her love for her hometown of Fitchburg, though. She always wanted to create a center of art and learning there, and, thanks to her will, she was able to do just that. Norcross bequeathed much of her fortune and personal art collection to start what became known as the Fitchburg Art Museum.
Today, after recent renovations, the museum spans 20,000 square feet, collecting works spanning from ancient Egypt to 19th-century America. This impressive permanent collection is often supplemented by traveling or special exhibits, which choose Fitchburg as a destination during travels around the country and globe. The museum, too, makes an effort to entertain every kind of visitor. While some galleries simply feature paintings hanging on walls, others, such as the Egyptian collection, invite interaction, making them well-suited for families and school groups.
The Top Fun Aviation Toy Museum holds quite the distinction: it's the first and only toy museum in the world solely dedicated to aviation-related toys. Its gargantuan selection of kid-friendly items aims to inspire youngsters to learn about the history of aviation.
Size: intimate exhibit space host nearly 800 vintage and modern toys from around the world
Eye Catcher: an airy exhibit space boasts a multicolor airplane command center and a model airport—complete with runway, planes, and travelers.
Permanent Exhibit: historic tin flyers from Japan, Hungary, Germany, and the United States; a helicopter and an airplane constructed out of Dutch milk tins by children from Burkina Faso
Don't Miss: puzzles and flight simulation games in the activity room
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.
Whether you're solo or with a group, National Plastics Center and Museum in Leominster is a great place to explore and indulge in works of art.
Parking is plentiful, so guests can feel free to bring their vehicles.
Art connoisseurs flock to Gardner's Gardner Museum, where you can catch a glimpse of some of the best and brightest.
Parallel-parking experts can find room on the street, though patrons also have access to the museum's adjoining lot.
With the largest collection of Russian icons in North America, this museum gives its visitors a glimpse into an important part of Russian culture in play since the year 998. It houses more than 700 Russian artifacts, and also encompasses a research library and archive with a collection that spans six centuries. Onsite classes let interested parties delve even more deeply into the artifacts’ context and history, and the three-story building’s elevators and other amenities render it fully accessible to patrons in wheelchairs and on unicycles. Today, the museum spans 16,000 square feet and includes an old mill building, though over the years it has expanded to encompass extra gallery space, a tea room, and a performance area dedicated to cross-cultural understanding.