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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Trip Across the Street

Photo by John Kane
Photo by John Kane

We all know that Boston is a city full of history and museums that celebrate it, but did you know that we’ve got quite a bit of history right here on Columbia Point?

That’s right, just next door to campus (those two buildings to the right of the buses as they drive you to the subway) are two great museums celebrating Massachusetts history. They are the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and the Commonwealth Museum at the Massachusetts State Archives. Best of all, they are both free to University of Massachusetts- Boston students with a valid student ID.

The black and white building by the water is the I. M. Pei designed John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Dedicated in 1979, the museum was built to honor the 35th President of the United States, Brookline native John F. Kennedy.

The museum features exhibits of the many highlights of Kennedy’s life. There is a section where one can learn about the 1960 presidential debates between Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. These were the first televised debates and what many would say the reason Kennedy won the election. There are sections on the Peace Corps and the space race, which were both important aspects of Kennedy’s political career.

One can also find replicas of the Oval Office and Robert F Kennedy’s (John’s younger brother), Attorney General office. Another section of the museum is dedicated to Jackie, Kennedy’s wife and one of the most recognizable first ladies in the history of the country. This museum contains more than the story of an assassination. It is the story of a man who rose through the political ranks to make his mark on history. The other building, the one that looks much like a fort, is the Massachusetts State Archives. It houses the records of the Commonwealth from the colonial charters that first established the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the latest census.

Also found inside is the Commonwealth Museum, dedicated to the history of Massachusetts. One can learn about the Boston Tea Party and the Salem Witch Trials. Everything from our storied history can be found here. The highlight of the museum is an exhibit called “Highway to the Past: The Archeology of the Central Artery Project”. For those who don’t know, the Central Artery Project is the more formal name for “The Big Dig”, the most expensive construction project in the history of the United States. The exhibit includes artifacts that have been dug up during construction.

People from Native Americans to today’s residents have left plenty behind to be dug up. Some of the objects one can see there include bones, pottery, jars, win bottle seals, combs, medicine bottles, and the oldest bowling ball ever found in North America, dated somewhere between 1660 and 1715.

A new exhibit, Rose Kennedy: In Her Own Words, opened on September 28, 2006. It’s a special exhibit from the John F. Kennedy Library Archives of photographs and documents, letters, and journals written by Rose Kennedy offering a glimpse into the history she lived.

So, next time you find yourself with a few hours to spare here on campus–a problem many of us will run into from time to time– take a walk around the point and head on over to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum or the Commonwealth Museum and take in a little local history. It’s only a few steps away and best of all, it’s free.

About the Contributor
Michael Hogan served as the following positions at The Mass Media for the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Spring 2008; Fall 2008 Arts Editor: Spring 2007; Fall 2007