The location of your graduate school can play a huge role in your experience, and in my (perhaps slightly biased) opinion, the Boston area is a great place to be during graduate school. There are tons of cultural events and attractions, and there’s never any shortage of things to do, both in the city center and the neighborhoods and suburbs surrounding Boston. Here are my top five picks of places to visit once you move to Boston:
1. The Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum
Every time a friend or relative visits me in Boston, this is at the top of my list of places to take them. It’s unlike any museum I’ve ever been to— the lush courtyard in the middle surrounded by beautiful Venetian architecture as well as it’s unique blend of Asian, European, and African art make it feel completely separate from the rest of Boston. As an added point of interest, it’s also the site of the largest art heist in history. In 1990, thieves stole $500 million works of art, including pieces by Vermeer and Rembrandt. As you explore the museum, keep an eye out for the empty frames that the museum has left hanging.
2. The Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation
This museum may not be as well known as some of the larger museums on this list, but I consider it a hidden gem. I hadn’t visited it until I started working at Heller, but it soon became one of my favorites. It’s the site of America’s first factory, and the museum holds artifacts of the industrial revolution from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and provides insight into Boston’s role in the Industrial Revolution, as well as a look into Waltham’s history.
While not strictly in Boston, the Peabody Essex Museum is one of my favorite museums to visit in the area. They have an eclectic collection featuring artists from around the world and often have immersive, experiential works that make visiting it worthwhile during your time in Boston. Currently, you can view their collections of Chinese, maritime, Oceanic, African, and Native American art, including photographs, sculptures, paintings, and jewelry. Fashion aficionados will also appreciate the Alexander McQueen dress on display— there really is something for everyone!
4. The Boston Common and Public Gardens
While this isn’t a museum, it’s certainly worth a visit while you’re in the Boston area as an important historical site. The Boston Common was originally founded as a common grazing area for cattle (hence the name), but eventually developed into the first public park in America. Over the years, it has been used for numerous protests, from the American Revolution to Black Lives Matter protests, and both Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope John Paul II have delivered speeches here. Across Charles Street lies the Boston Public Garden, which is part of the Emerald Necklace string of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (who also designed Central Park in New York City). During the spring, tulips lining the walkway to the George Washington statue and blooming cherry blossoms make for an amazing photo opportunity.
I would be remiss if I didn’t feature Brandeis’ very own Rose Art Museum. They always have thought-provoking exhibits, but I’m particularly fond of their permanent collection, The Undisciplined Collector. It’s a wood-paneled room filled with artifacts and artwork that’s meant to evoke the feeling of stepping into a 1960s living room. If you’re a fan of mid-century furniture or design (or maybe just really liked Mad Men), be sure to check this one out.
BONUS: I asked my co-workers where their favorite places in Boston are, and here’s what they had to say!
Hannah Locke, Associate Director of Admissions: I recommend getting out of Boston to check out the various New England islands in warmer weather – Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, MA; Block Island, RI; and Deer Isle, ME.
Jill Maley, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions: Although I don’t get into Boston often, I love to visit the Andala Coffee House (which is technically in Cambridge) for a strong cup of coffee that’s perfect for either sitting in the cheerful cafe, or wandering around Cambridge.
Ellen Driscoll, Admissions Coordinator: On a sunny day, I enjoy walks along Boston Harbor from South Boston, to the Waterfront, and to Charlestown. And don’t miss our newest park, the Greenway, which rests atop our tunnel through downtown Boston and connects the North End neighborhood with Quincy Market and the Financial District.