Exhibitions at the Old State House
All exhibitions are permanent unless otherwise noted.
The Council Chamber in Boston's Town House (now the Old State House), where the Royal Governor of Massachusetts met with members of his Council, was once a nerve center for the British empire in North America. Now, for the first time in 250 years, visitors to the Old State House can see this historic room as it appeared during the 1760s, when the fate of the British empire turned on the decisions made within its walls. Sit in the Royal Governor's chair, thumb through reproduction documents on display at the Council table, and investigate the tea service, where wares once sold by obscure Bostonians are on display. In this playful, hands-on setting, visitors will discover the surprising story of Boston before the American Revolution, a time when most colonists took fierce pride in their "English liberties," followed the latest London fashions, and sought advancement by cultivating the favor of the royal court. We invite you to enter the Council Chamber and explore how culture, commerce, and ideas combined to define a distinctly "British" Boston just prior to the American Revolution.
The Bostonian Society wishes to thank the National Park Service for its generous support of this project. The Society also thanks its partner, the North Bennet Street School, whose talented faculty and alumni crafted the furniture on display in the Council Chamber.
with foam bricks
our Old State House façade
This exhibition interprets the role of Boston, and in particular the role of the Old State House, in the events leading up to the American Revolution. Whether you are a longtime Boston resident wanting to understand your city better or an out-of-town tourist walking the Freedom Trail, this exhibition will help you master the basics of Boston’s revolutionary story. The exhibition uses 150 images and artifacts to trace the changing relationship of the colonial citizens to the crown, the break with England, and the establishment of a new state. Highlights of the room include a coat belonging to John Hancock, tea from the Boston Tea Party, and Paul Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre.
For this exhibition, staff of The Bostonian Society have brought out objects from collection storage that represent their favorite Boston story. See some of the fascinating artifacts that have been hiding in storage, and learn from our staff what each object means to the history of Boston. Then choose your favorite thing in the museum. Several of the objects in this exhibition are being exhibited for the first time.
How do you take care of a 300-year-old building? This exhibition chronicles the architectural alterations that have been made to the Old State House over time, and illustrates the restoration efforts and preservation processes used since 1881 to ensure that it continues to inspire future generations.