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Best Museums in Springfield

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The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum is a teaching museum with over 16,000 items in its permanent collection. The museum's permanent collection continues to grow each year through museum purchase and private gifts. The museum also hosts special exhibits on a regularly rotating basis, and in the past such exhibitions have included The Art of Devotion: Panel Painting in Early Renaissance Italy, Encounters: Faces of the Ancient Americas, and The "EK" Hadley Chest: A Collection Spotlight.

What started as home for Francine and Sterling Clark's art collection in 1950 is now a full-scale institute featuring a museum, exhibitions and educational programs. The white-columned facilities are set in the lush natural surroundings of the green-treed hill and dale of the Berkshires. There is a fine collection of French Impressionist art as well as Renaissance and other 19th-century paintings. Admission is free from November through May.

Built in the style of an Italian villa in 1895, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum houses an eclectic collection of artifacts from Ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt and China, plus artworks, Chinese ceramics, Japanese armor and plaster casts of major European sculptures. This art museum is a must-see for art enthusiasts of all ages who are visiting the Springfield Museums, especially with the Hasbro Games Art Discovery Center that encourages children to learn about art and history through interactive displays and activities.

Springfield's Museum of Fine Arts includes collections of fine works by some of the world's greatest painters and sculptors. Highlights of the permanent collection include works by Monet, Gauguin, Degas, Pissarro, and Renoir, 19th-and 20th-century Japanese prints, and modern artworks by O'Keefe. The Fine Arts Museum also boasts the only permanent collection of Currier & Ives lithographs.

Old Sturbridge Village has been a staple for schoolchildren and families in New England since 1946. This 200-acre (81-hectare) living history museum features beautiful grounds with buildings transported to Sturbridge, Massachusetts from all around the Northeast. Your tour of the property begins at the Visitor Center where you can see special exhibits and videos about life in early 19th-century New England. Step inside any of the buildings and you will find historians dressed in period costumes explaining the origins of the structures and their role in the community. There are over 40 buildings on the property, including a schoolhouse, gristmill, smithery, bake shop, law office, printers and typical 1830s-style homes. There is an on-site restaurant, the Oliver Wight Tavern, where you can enjoy lunch or brunch on the weekends. In springtime, children will love to see the newborn lambs and cows!

This museum features the largest single collection of Norman Rockwell works in the world. Exhibitions include many of Rockwell's famous Saturday Evening Post cover art, as well as other well known works like Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas. This museum tries to convey the classic American spirit and the spirit of the American Dream through this beloved artist's work. Apart from Rockwell's work, the museum also features other special illustration exhibitions.

Come visit the birthplace of one of America's best-loved authors, Emily Dickinson, who was born here in December 1830. The famed poet spent most of her life here composing over 1800 poems. The property consists of two different residences that are open to the public: The Evergreens, home to Emily's brother Austin, and The Homestead, where she lived and where her numerous unpublished poems were found after her death. Visitors can see both houses through special guided and audio tours.

The Springfield Science Museum and Seymour Planetarium is dedicated to the natural sciences and artifacts found throughout New England. Children can explore and learn about the habitats of the Amazon rainforest, African savanna, a coral reef or the New England coastal areas. If a trip through time is more their thing, the Dinosaur Hall has replicas of Tyrannosaurus Rex as well as some dinosaurs native to the Connecticut River Valley. Tickets to the Seymour Planetarium (the nation's oldest) can be purchased separately, so sit back and check out over 7000 stars from our solar system.

Located in the birthplace of volleyball, Holyoke, the Volleyball Hall of Fame stands as a "living memorial" to the sport of volleyball and the players, coaches and other people who have truly excelled at the highest level in the sport. Since 1987 the hall of fame has inducted over 110 members from over 20 countries and enjoys sponsorships from such organizations and companies as USA Volleyball, Spalding, and the YMCA.

One of the region's great authors of children's books is Eric Carle, author and artist of the beloved classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art consists of three galleries dedicated to picture book art and children's books. The museum also has a reading room, art center, and cafe. The Eric Carle Museum is a great place to introduce children to art via their favorite pictures and story books.

Founded in 1959, the present facility of the Basketball Hall of Fame was opened in 2002 in a gorgeously modern building shaped like a basketball. Located on three floors, the museum houses a large collection of sports memorabilia, exhibits, and more dedicated to athletes and teams from around the world, as well as other innovators, coaches, commentators and referees. At the end of your self-guided tour, shoot some baskets on the regulation-size court at a variety of hoops, ranging from the wooden headboards of the 1890s to the fiberglass models of the 21st Century.

The Mead Art Museum, located on the campus of Amherst College, houses a large collection of art from all over the world. From Rubens to Monet, the Mead Art Museum features major works by major artists, as well as such works as West African sculptures and Japanese prints. The Mead is open for the public to visit and admission is always free.

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