Boston’s museums are world famous, and for good reason — they pack hundreds of years’ worth of history and culture into their walls. But if your daytime plans don’t allow you to experience these cultural gems during peak hours, lucky for you, many of Boston’s best museums offer some form of nighttime admission.
Here’s your guide to enjoying Boston’s museums after the sun goes down.
Thursday nights at the Isabella Stewart Gardner
While the famous collection of the late Isabella Stewart Gardner is usually open to the public until 5, the hours are extended on Thursday until 9pm. The beautifully arranged collection, which includes works from Botticelli to Sargent, already has the feel of a haunted mansion — a sense amplified at night. If you’re lucky enough to be in town on the third Thursday of the month, you’ll find a more festive atmosphere of musical entertainment, a cash bar, artsy activities, and informational talks.
Admission: $15; Seniors, $12; Students, $5.
Hours: Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Third Thursday events begin at 5:30)
MFA late nights
On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Boston’s historic and sprawling Museum of Fine Arts is open until 10pm. Going late on a weeknight is the perfect way to avoid the usual crowds that gather around the museum’s special exhibits and old favorites, from the Egyptian mummies to the impressionists. If you show up on Wednesday after 4 pm, admission is by suggested donation only, and you should have plenty of time to see the hits within six hours.
Admission: $25; Free after 4 pm on Wednesdays; more admission prices
Hours: Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday nights at the Museum of Science
Boston’s most scientific museum is typically overrun by school groups on weekdays and packed with families on weekends. On Fridays, when the Museum of Science is open until 9pm, you can peacefully enjoy the interactive displays about outer space, chemistry, and geology without worrying that you’re obscuring the view of eager tots.
Admission: $23, more admission prices
Hours: Fridays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Tavern nights at the Boston Tea Party Museum
As one of the country’s most Revolutionary cities, visitors to Boston should spend a little bit of time immersed in Boston’s history. What better way to honor that history than with what the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum boasts as the “only colonial tavern night experience” in the city? Eat “Roasted Sweet Meat of Swine,” drink with costumed characters from your history books, and interactively learn about the customs of the nation’s founding fathers at the museum’s twice-monthly Tavern Night.
Admission: $28; lesser online prices
Hours: The second and fourth Friday of every month; doors at 6:30 pm from November to March, 7:30 from April to October
ICA late nights
The Institute of Contemporary Art, which houses its collection in a spectacular building jutting over the Boston Harbor, is open until 9 pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and the museum offers free admission if you show up between 5 pm and 9 pm on Thursdays. Unlike the vast MFA, the ICA is small enough that you can see it all in a few hours. Additionally, the museum presents special events nearly every weekend, from pop-up talks to concerts on first Fridays. Tickets to the events typically include museum admission; while everyone is enjoying the festivities, you can slip away and enjoy the exhibits in near solitude.
Admission: $15; free Thursdays between 5 pm and 9pm; event prices vary
Hours: Thursdays and Fridays from 10 am to 9 pm
While these after-hours visits are open to everyone, visiting a museum at night gives you the sense that you’re in a special club. Like Ben Stiller’s character in Night at the Museum, you might just find that these centuries-old artifacts come alive in the evening time.