Observing the Anniversary

Observing the One-Year Anniversary

For the anniversary of the marathon bombing, cultural institutions across the greater Boston area are opening their doors to you for healing, reflection, and connection. These cultural institutions come in all shapes and sizes. There are places to experience art, glimpse layers of history, stroll through nature, and view city vistas; places to find quiet solitude and places to find cacophonous community; places to go with the kids and places to go with the boss; places to stimulate the hungry mind and places to calm the hurting heart.

Whatever your needs on and around April 15, there is a cultural institution that can help you meet them.  Some of these institutions are free to the public every day of the year; others are making a special effort to offer free admission on or around the anniversary. Browse the list below for ideas.


In Boston

Boston Athenaeum  Tour the Boston Athenaeum to view inspiring art, architecture, and city views. It's a beautiful, quiet spot in the middle of the bustling city. #Boston Better Partner Institution. First floor and twice weekly tours always free to the public. Closed Monday, April 21.

Boston Children's Museum  If you are looking for a way to minimize your kids' exposure to the intense media coverage of the anniversary, take them to the Children's Museum. Afterwards, enjoy a walk along the Fort Point Channel in the museum's Waterfront Park. #BostonBetter Partner Institution. Closed Monday, April 21.

Boston Public Library, Copley Square, Sargent Murals  Impressive murals wrap around the walls and ceiling on the third floor of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. Ornate, majestic, and beautiful, these murals have provided inspiration to generations of Bostonians. #Boston Better Partner Institution. Always free to the public. Closed Monday, April 21.

Bunker Hill Monument, View from the Top  From the top of the Bunker Hill Monument, all of Boston is spread at your feet. The 294-step climb gives the body a workout and clears the mind. Always free to the public. During peak season from April 1 to June 30, stop first at the Bunker Hill Museum at 43 Monument Square to pick up a free climbing pass.

Commonwealth Museum  The Commonwealth Museum displays incredible historical documents, like the Massachusetts Bay Colony charter and the Constitution of the Commonwealth. These centuries-old foundational documents can inspire deep thinking on where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we’re going. Always free to the public. Closed Monday, April 21.

Institute of Contemporary Art, Harbor View from John Hancock Founder's Gallery  The view of Boston Harbor from the Institute of Contemporary Art is like no other view in the city. The ICA’s John Hancock Founder’s Gallery seems to float above the water, giving visitors the perfect perch to take in passing boats and the city’s shoreline. Combine the view with the ICA's world-class contemporary art collection, and you can easily lose  yourself for an afternoon. #Boston Better Partner Institution. Free admission Tuesday, April 15

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Courtyard  The Courtyard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum feels like the first day of spring, every day. Modeled after a Venetian palazzo, this bright, airy indoor garden features ancient sculptures, lush plants, a trickling fountain, and the ability to inspire both heart and mind. #BostonBetter Partner Institution. Closed Tuesday, April 15 and Monday, April 21.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Pavilion  The airy atrium at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum provides stunning views of the city skyline across the harbor. This bright, open space is the perfect place to think big thoughts after learning about the life and work of one of Boston's favorite sons. 

Mary Baker Eddy Library, Mapparium  The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library takes a creative spin on the traditional globe--visitors stand inside this three-story orb of stained glass. This inside-out worldview is a great setting for contemplating your place in the grand scheme of things. Free admission on Monday, April 21.

Museum of Fine Arts, Buddhist Temple Room  The MFA offers many artworks that feed the soul. In particular, the Buddhist Temple Room is a hidden gem. This quiet, meditative space showcases beautiful Japanese statuary in a unique setting. #Boston Better Partner Institution. Free admission on Saturday, April 19. Closed Monday, April 21.

Museum of Science, Butterfly Garden  Flowers bloom, butterflies flit, and visitors smile in the butterfly garden at the Museum of Science. Though small and delicate, the butterflies have been known to lift the heaviest of hearts.

New England Aquarium, Jellyfish Exhibit  Of all the sea creatures at the New England Aquarium, the jellyfish are a perennial favorite for their mystical, almost ethereal qualities. Give your brain some time to slow down by focusing on their captivating appearance and mesmerizing movements.

Old South Meeting House  Sometimes, simply being in the same spaces where important historical events occurred can be inspiring, both personally and collectively. Old South Meeting House is such a place; as the starting point of the Boston Tea Party and a site for free speech in Boston for centuries, there's a sense of significance and purpose imbued in its walls. #BostonBetter Partner Institution.

Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation, Rooftop Garden  A garden with dozens of different plants sits atop the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum at Massachusetts General Hospital. The garden provides stunning views of Beacon Hill and the State House dome, giving visitors a calm, beautiful, green space in the midst of the crowded city. #BostonBetter Partner Institution. Always free to the public.

USS Constitution Museum, "All Hands on Deck: A Sailor's Life in 1812"  Stepping into a different time and place can sometimes help you better understand yourself, here and now. In the "All Hands on Deck" exhibition, you'll walk in a sailor's shoes, giving you perspective on your own life and work. #BostonBetter Partner Institution. Suggested donation waived Tuesday, April 15.


West of Boston

Danforth Art Museum, "Pop-Up Shape and Color"  The colorful world of pop-up books springs to life in the Danforth Museum’s exhibition “Pop-Up Shape and Color.” Lose yourself in a cheerful world of three-dimensional paper masterpieces tucked between the unassuming pages of books. Closed Tuesday, April 15 and Monday, April 21.

Davis Museum, "Stories Ideals, and Beliefs"  The “Stories, Ideals, and Beliefs” gallery at the Davis Museum includes art from different times and places juxtaposed in surprising ways. The pairings provoke reflection about big questions of the universal human experience. #Boston Better Partner Institution. Closed Monday, April 21.

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Grounds  The gardens and grounds at the home of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted are, of course, beautifully landscaped. With open lawns, wooded niches, and a stony garden, there are several options for visitors to recharge in beautiful green spaces. Always free to the public.

Gore Place  With a stately mansion and extensive grounds, Gore Place is beautiful inside and out. On April 15, enjoy a free tour at 1:00pm, browse the museum’s used book sale, and relax with cookies and tea in the mansion’s west wing. #Boston Better Partner Institution. Free admission Tuesday, April 15.

Historic Newton, "Charles J. Connick: Adventurer in Light and Color"  Colorful, vibrant stained glass forms the basis for this exhibition at Historic Newton. The featured designs, drawings, and finished works take you behind the scenes in the creation of awe-inspiring glass masterpieces. #BostonBetter Partner Institution. Free Admission Tuesday, April 15. Closed Monday, April 21.

Newton Free Library  The Newton Free Library hosts a variety of exhibitions by regional artists each month. The varied exhibits will indulge a need for creative beauty and inspired reflection. #BostonBetter Partner Institution. Always free to the public.

Public Library of Brookline  An architectural gem in the heart of Brookline Village, with ample space for quiet reading and reflection, Main Library will also be hosting the Brookline Artists' Open Studios Preview Show through April 22. Enjoy the paintings, drawings, mixed media, photography, jewelry, sculpture, textiles, and stoneware of our talented residents. Always free to the public. Closed Monday, April 21.

Rose Art Museum  The Rose Art Museum presents a variety of modern and contemporary works of art housed in a distinctive 1961 building. Exhibitions are deep and thought-provoking, and the surrounding campus of Brandeis University is perfect for a pleasant walk. Always free to the public. Closed Monday, April 21.


North of Boston

Cambridge Public Library, Filament/Firmament  Filament/Firmament is a public artwork in the Stone Building of the Cambridge Main Library. It honors Cambridge's women, and its atrium setting promises plenty of refreshing natural light. #Boston Better Partner Institution. Always free to the public.

DeCordova Sculpture Park  The outdoor sculpture park at the DeCordova includes walking paths, participatory sculptures, and gardens. There’s plenty of open space for kids to roam free, and plenty of quiet corners to meditate alone. Closed April Tuesday, 15 and Monday, April 21.

Harvard Museum of Natural History, Glass Flowers Collection  Cases upon cases of minutely realistic glass flowers are on display at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Marvel at their technical mastery and admire their "natural" beauty.

MIT Museum, "5000 Moving Parts"  The MIT Museum’s “5000 Moving Parts” is an exhibition of kinetic and participatory art that will intrigue the mind and delight the senses. Here, engineering and art combine to form pieces that beg you to stop and stare, for as long as you want.

Peabody Essex Museum, Yin Yu Tang  With its central courtyard, goldfish ponds, and wooden balconies, the Peabody Essex Museum’s Yin Yu Tang house is a delight to explore. The house blurs the line between indoors and outdoors, creating a space that feels both open and intimate at the same time.    


South of Boston

Adams National Historical Park, Grounds at Peacefield  The grounds at Peacefield, home of the Revolutionary Adams family, include gardens, orchards, and a quaint stone library covered in vines. Wander through for a few minutes or linger longer and soak it all in.  

Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center  Hike to the summit of Great Blue Hill and explore the Blue Hill Observatory at the top.  From here, you can see for miles, to the Blue Hills in one direction and Boston in the other. Open only weekends and federal holidays, including Monday, April 21 for Patriot's Day.

Fuller Craft Museum, "Shine a Light: Artistic Expressions from Gateway Arts"  This exhibition features several artists from Gateway Arts, a studio arts center for adults with development and psychiatric disabilities.  Their work is unique, deep, and moving. Closed Monday, April 21.

Museum of American Bird Art  Beautiful creatures beget beautiful art, as seen at the Museum of American Bird Art. View artistic renderings of many different birds, then step outside to scenic trails and look for them in person. Closed Monday, April 21.