In 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies generously provided funding for the first archives department in the Museum’s nearly 200-year history. The Archives traces the Museum’s development as the venerable Boston Society of Natural History (1830 – 1948) to the multifaceted educational institution that the Museum of Science is today. By preserving these records, the Archives demonstrates the Museum’s historical, scientific, and cultural impact while providing inspiration for the future.

Collections in the Archives

The Archives includes approximately 3,300 linear feet of records featuring: institutional documents, handwritten manuscripts, photographs and negatives, bound volumes, motion picture films, audiovisual recordings, artworks, and digital media. The archival collections are mostly unprocessed or low-level processed. The Archives staff are actively working toward improved intellectual and physical access to the archival collections as resources are made available. Explore our archival collections by browsing and searching within the finding aid catalog.

In addition, related institutions such as the Linnaean Society, the Computer Museum, the Computer Clubhouse Network, the Trailside Museum, and other New England cultural heritage organizations are reflected within our holdings. Highlights from our archival collections include:

Collections of the Boston Society of Natural History

Records relate to the Museum of Science’s predecessor organization, that operated from 1830 to 1948. Please note that some BSNH publications are digitized and freely available online through the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

  • Administration Records
  • Collection Records (related to the specimen and artifacts collections as well as past libraries)
  • Education Records
  • Member Records
  • Publication Records

Collections of the Museum of Science

Records related to Museum staff, Board of Trustees, and stakeholders from 1940s to the present-day featuring documents, images, and digital files about exhibitions, programs, administration, and beyond.

  • H. Bradford Washburn, Jr. Papers
  • Charles Hayden Planetarium Records

Museum History

From the 1800s to the present-day, see how the Museum’s exhibits have shaped visitors’ experiences from the past to the present. Explore our history and archival holdings through Museum of Science Collective Memory, a series of resources that tell the story of the Museum through time. 

Research in the Archives

For any reference, research, reproduction, and licensing requests, please complete the inquiry form below.

The Archives supports reference requests through remote research services. Due to high demand, there may be a delay with processing requests and some requests may be unable to be fulfilled at this time. We appreciate your patience.