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Museum History and Collection

Founded in 1913 by a group of teachers in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Boston Children’s Museum began a “hands–on” tradition long before that phrase became commonplace. Collections were vital to the early Museum and led the way forward to today’s Museum, where hands-on experiences form the basis of the Museum’s approach to playful exploration. Today, Boston Children’s Museum remains one of the few children’s museums in the United States that maintains a collection.

We invite you to get to know the history of one of the world’s most influential children’s museums through our diverse collections, institutional archives, photographs, and stories.

Browse the Collection

Boston Children’s Museum has been collecting since 1912 when the first gift was recorded. Materials in the Museum’s Collection come from all around the world—there are diverse natural history specimens, objects of American history, and global cultural materials including Indigenous belongings from across North America, the Pacific, and beyond.

Museum Archives

The purpose of the Museum’s institutional archives is to collect, preserve, and make accessible over 105 years’ worth of non-current records. The archives reflect the Museum’s origins, development, activities, and achievements, furthering an appreciation and understanding of the Museum’s history and importance to the museum and education fields.

Boston Stories

From 1960-1990, Boston Children’s Museum underwent a transformational period of creative experimentation that drew interest all across the museum field. Boston Stories is a resource for educators, museum practitioners, and nonprofits documenting these thirty years of innovation.

Follow along with Gaby as she takes you on a fascinating tour of the over 100-year-old Collection at Boston Children’s Museum and shares fun facts about the practice of maintaining a collection.

100 Years of Boston Children’s Museum: A Pictorial History >

Please contact the Collections department with any questions, research interests, image requests, or donations and gift offers. We’d love to hear from you! All gifts and donations are reviewed by a staff committee before acceptance. Archival materials should relate to the Museum’s history.

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