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Boston museums: 8 underappreciated ones to visit

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Boston is home to some of the world's most notable museums. But the city also hosts some lesser-known institutions of collective preservation, including one of the oldest military museums on the continent and one of the nation's most prominent repositories of African-American history.

This map pinpoints these and others, many of them free and all of them perfect for fall afternoons and weekends.

Of course, some might argue that entire Boston neighborhoods are veritable museumsThat's fine, too.

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Gibson House

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The nonprofit museum provides a deep dive into what life was like for affluent Back Bay residents in the 19th century and early 20th century. Four floors of the capacious townhouse are open to the public year-round. Tickets are $9, though there are discounts for seniors, students, and kids.

Nichols House

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Right near the State House and the 54th Regiment memorial is this museum housed in an 1804 Federal townhouse that Charles Bulfinch designed. The museum, named for the townhouse's last owner, who died in 1960 and bequeathed it, depicts life in Beacon Hill in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Admission is $10 per adult. Kids under 13 get in free.

Battle Of Bunker Hill Museum

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The museum sits just across the street from the Bunker Hill memorial and monument. Not surprisingly, it chronicles that ferocious 1775 battle between colonial and British forces. There's also plenty of local history, too, with an emphasis on pre-20th century (who knew there was a Bunker Hill Lager?). It's all free because the National Park Service runs it all.

Museum of African American History

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The museum charts the story of African-Americans in New England from colonial times through the 19th century. The institution's infrastructure itself includes some pretty historic architecture: The African Meeting House dates from 1806, and remains the oldest standing black church edifice in the United States. Tons of abolitionist history passed through it as a result. Free to all, but donations appreciated.

Ancient And Honorable Artillery Company

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The organization behind this museum has roots stretching back to the 1630s, so it's little surprise that its collection of military memorabilia covers quite a few eras. And it's not all military, either, with books, plates, tankards, and other objects part of the displays. The space is directly across from the elevator to the fourth floor of Faneuil Hall and is free to the public on weekdays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

West End Museum

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The West End Museum is just that: a museum dedicated to Boston's West End. More specifically, it chronicles the forced transition of the enclave due to so-called urban renewal efforts in the 1950s and 1960s; essentially, it's a big cautionary tale to potentially overzealous city planners. Plus, it's just got some cool stuff about Boston back in the day, including the roles of various immigrant groups in the mighty city's rise. Free to all.

Boston Fire Museum

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Not surprisingly, the museum dedicated to the Boston Fire Department resides in an old firehouse, this one dating from 1891. There are all manner of firefighting equipment and vehicles on display as well as historical photos. Visitors might invariably find a friendly dalmatian to pet and the museum is free (though donations via a boot out front are appreciated).

Warren Anatomical Museum

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The collection of the museum dates from the late 1840s, when the institution's namesake, a former Harvard medical professor, donated it. The museum includes approximately 15,000 artifacts and cases, including the skull of Phineas Gage, through which an iron rod shot ... though it didn't kill Gage: He lived another dozen years. Free to all.

Gibson House

The nonprofit museum provides a deep dive into what life was like for affluent Back Bay residents in the 19th century and early 20th century. Four floors of the capacious townhouse are open to the public year-round. Tickets are $9, though there are discounts for seniors, students, and kids.

Nichols House

Right near the State House and the 54th Regiment memorial is this museum housed in an 1804 Federal townhouse that Charles Bulfinch designed. The museum, named for the townhouse's last owner, who died in 1960 and bequeathed it, depicts life in Beacon Hill in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Admission is $10 per adult. Kids under 13 get in free.

Battle Of Bunker Hill Museum

The museum sits just across the street from the Bunker Hill memorial and monument. Not surprisingly, it chronicles that ferocious 1775 battle between colonial and British forces. There's also plenty of local history, too, with an emphasis on pre-20th century (who knew there was a Bunker Hill Lager?). It's all free because the National Park Service runs it all.

Museum of African American History

The museum charts the story of African-Americans in New England from colonial times through the 19th century. The institution's infrastructure itself includes some pretty historic architecture: The African Meeting House dates from 1806, and remains the oldest standing black church edifice in the United States. Tons of abolitionist history passed through it as a result. Free to all, but donations appreciated.

Ancient And Honorable Artillery Company

The organization behind this museum has roots stretching back to the 1630s, so it's little surprise that its collection of military memorabilia covers quite a few eras. And it's not all military, either, with books, plates, tankards, and other objects part of the displays. The space is directly across from the elevator to the fourth floor of Faneuil Hall and is free to the public on weekdays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

West End Museum

The West End Museum is just that: a museum dedicated to Boston's West End. More specifically, it chronicles the forced transition of the enclave due to so-called urban renewal efforts in the 1950s and 1960s; essentially, it's a big cautionary tale to potentially overzealous city planners. Plus, it's just got some cool stuff about Boston back in the day, including the roles of various immigrant groups in the mighty city's rise. Free to all.

Boston Fire Museum

Not surprisingly, the museum dedicated to the Boston Fire Department resides in an old firehouse, this one dating from 1891. There are all manner of firefighting equipment and vehicles on display as well as historical photos. Visitors might invariably find a friendly dalmatian to pet and the museum is free (though donations via a boot out front are appreciated).

Warren Anatomical Museum

The collection of the museum dates from the late 1840s, when the institution's namesake, a former Harvard medical professor, donated it. The museum includes approximately 15,000 artifacts and cases, including the skull of Phineas Gage, through which an iron rod shot ... though it didn't kill Gage: He lived another dozen years. Free to all.