Boston Vacation – Where to Visit
- The Subway
- Museum of Science
- Semitic Museum @ Harvard University, Cambridge
- Harvard Natural History Museum, Cambridge, MA
- Boston Aquarium
- Beacon Hill
- U.S.S. Constitution
- Prudential Center
- If you have more places to review, from a frum-friendly perspective, please feel free to comment below and offer to submit reviews.
- Please comment
This is a continuation of Boston Vacation – Basics. This post covers places to visit.
For $2 a ride for adults, and free for kids, your kids get to have fun a relatively safe and very clean subway system. Plus, it beats the tremendous traffic in downtown Boston and connects to lots of places.
This is one of larger museums of science around the country. You can easily spend a day here exploring various topics in math and science, including live animals shows, Omnimax movies, and something unique to this science museum – the lightning show. They have two huge Vandergraph generators and shoot lightning from (to?) them.
There’s lots of museum exhibits focusing on Pacific islanders, and all sorts of other groups, but there’s actually one sort of dedicated to the historical information about me – the Semitic people. It’s not very big, but one room on the first floor is dedicated to the Jews. The big thing is this:
That is a model of a house around the time of the first bais hamikdash [temple]. It puts into perspective some of the stories in the Gemora [Talmud] about the ladder going from the first to the second floor that could be removed to keep intruders from easy access to you while you sleep, and the animals who reside on the first floor.
I have some qualms with this museum – namely that fact, fakery, and conjecture are all right next to each other, often with inadequate or no labeling. They’ve got a decent rock collection, but any rock collection just seems tiny in comparison to the one at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
For example, here a picture of a Dodo bird skeleton at the Harvard Natural History museum:
This actually takes center stage . . . except the last known Dodo bird skeleton was burnt in a fire, and later DNA tests say it really didn’t look much different than any other bird. The above one is made of duck and various bird parts put together. A museum of ‘science’ leading with a fake? So too, amongst the fossils, some are fossils of modern creatures, some of more ancient, and what irked me was some were real and some were plaster cast with no indication telling you what was what. One huge allegedly prehistoric whale-like thing is, according to the helpful guide who I asked, actually part real bone, part conjecture, and all painted over so you couldn’t tell the difference. It’s a big mishkaboble of animals that were given to them at various times.
The displays also lack any information about where anything was found, when, how far apart, and so forth, but they leave you with this gem:
Suffice to say, there are numerous ways to criticize the hubris and lack of scientific definitions of their terms on this sign. Going with the theme of my above gripes about this museum, it just strikes me as the sort of late 19th century naturalist view that “science conquers all” combined with Harvard-style arrogance. Assuming they’re referring to macro-evolution, no one was there to see how the world was created to be able to test the veracity of such a strongly worded statement. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Declare if you have an understanding” . . . know who says that? G_d says it to Iyov. The most humorous criticism of the sign actually came from a Physicist who said that gravity is not proven and this was Biologist arrogance, not Harvard arrogance. Add your own criticisms in the comments.
Unique to this museum are glass sculptures of all sorts of plants, so that they could be studied by Botanists throughout the entire year. That root below – it’s glass. There’s case after case of glass botany madness:
It’s good for a few hour visit, but it’s not really large enough for a full day. The children like the hundreds of sting rays that they can touch, the best.
These trucks / boats were used in World War II, and they’ll take you sightseeing around Boston and through the water.
Historians now say the Battle of Beacon Hill didn’t actually take place here, but on the next hill, but hey, it’s a large tower that you can climb, like the one in High Point, NJ and the Washington Monument. Good for half an hour.
This ship, and small museum on site in Boston Harbor, right near Beacon Hill, will entertain your family for about two hours. They actually put you through government security, like as if you enter any other national monument. It’s been “in service” since the war of 1812 when a bunch of British people were brutally murdered using this ship, because quasi-unfair trade practices justifies killing people, or something like that. They take the ship out once a year for a few hundred feet so they still call it an active navy ship. You can climb down to the lower levels and experience how much shorter people were two hundred years ago.
The Prudential Center, and the John Hancock Tower, are observatories – the highest buildings in the city. You can see all around in each cardinal direction, and at the Prudential Center they have a short movie and other displays related to immigration. It will last you about forty-five minutes.