A Guide to the Local Art Scene

Boston and Cambridge are two pretty exciting cities, and both offer diverse art scenes that range from movies to music to museums. But sometimes, being at MIT, we don’t know where to look when we want a little culture or entertainment. So I have decided to write up this little guide listing places where you can see some of the great art that these two cities on the Charles have to offer.


Regal Fenway 13 and

401 Park Drive, Boston, Mass.

AMC Loews Boston Common

175 Tremont Street, Boston, Mass.

The Fenway and Boston Common theaters are what you typically think of when you think of a movie theater: they are both large multiplexes with stadium seating, and they show the most recent wide releases. Both are easy to access from public transportation, with Fenway at the Fenway stop (imagine that) on the Green Line, and only a quick walk from Kenmore Square. Boston Common is about a block away from the Park Street stop on the Red or Green Line.

Just note, unless you’re from New York City, the tickets are probably more expensive than the theaters at home. And although there are deals at certain times, I have yet to be able to figure them out (in fact, I’m pretty sure you could get a masters in ticket pricing).

Kendall Square Cinema

1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, Mass.

Kendall Square Cinema is actually the closest theater to MIT, yet most people have never been. There are two reasons for this fact: it primarily shows independent and limited release films (in fact, it was voted one of the best theaters for independent films in the country), and it is really hard to find. This theater is great if you want to see a movie that is advertised as playing in select theaters or, even more likely, a movie that you have heard about but haven’t seen advertised at all.

The only problem is finding it. You’d think, given its location at 1 Kendall Square, that it would be somewhere near the T stop or Marriot area. You know, near Kendall Square. But 1 Kendall Square is actually a complex with a restaurants and shops that is located a few blocks over in the center of a cluster of large biotechnology companies. To get there from the real Kendall Square, take Main Street away from the river (towards Stata) and veer right onto Hampshire Street. Then, follow the signs to the theater.


Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Mass.

The MFA is perhaps Boston’s most famous museum and is my personal favorite. The building itself symbolizes the sophisticated elegance of the varying works inside. And of course, the works are magnificent; there are paintings, sculptures, furniture, tombs, instruments, and more. Plus, as an MIT student, it’s all free (except for the special exhibitions). Yes, the MFA, as well as the Museum of Science, is free for MIT students; you just have to show your student ID. But my favorite feature of the MFA is that you can go alone, and it is just as good; in fact, I think it’s better to visit it alone. I love wandering the stately galleries at my own pace, reflecting on the beauty around me. If you’re only going to see one museum while you’re in Boston, this is the one.

Institute of Contemporary Art

100 Northern Avenue, Boston, Mass.

The ICA recently moved into its new (permanent) home on the Boston waterfront. The building, with its walls of glass and its cantilevered second floor overlooking Boston Harbor, is a work of art itself. When this museum celebrated its re-opening, it was the first new museum opening in Boston in more than a century. While the MFA might be more famous, don’t miss out on this blending of modernist work on the docks of the historical Boston Harbor.


Symphony Hall

301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Mass.

Located across the river on Mass. Ave., Symphony Hall is the home of both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops. Seeing a performance by either group is a treat in the elegant Symphony Hall. However, if you’re going to see just one show, I would recommend the Pops. For their shows, the ground seats are removed and replaced with small tables for four where food and drinks can be ordered.

Although these performances can be expensive (especially for students), there are some student tickets available through MIT. Also, on certain nights, if you go a few hours before the show, discount tickets can be purchased.

Orpheum Theatre

1 Hamilton Place, Boston, Mass.

The Orpheum is probably my favorite place for seeing current acts. The former grand movie theater is now home to pop and rock musicians. With its peeling paint covering intricate carvings and its speakers placed next to box seats, this place is a study in juxtaposition. But what I really like about the theater is that it’s small enough to feel intimate but big enough for stars. I also like that you get a seat (though they are small) — so no pushing.


15 Landsdowne Street, Boston, Mass.


967-969 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Mass.

Avalon and Paradise are two of the biggest clubs in Boston with a great variety of music acts. While some big music acts will play these clubs, generally it is the stage emerging artists that have reached a certain level of fame. Other nights you can see more local talent and up-and-coming artists. One note: many nights are 21+, so I would recommend checking if you’re thinking of seeing your favorite band at one of these locations.

T.T. the Bear’s Place

10 Brookline Street, Cambridge, Mass.

Middle East

472/480 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Mass.

These two Central Square clubs are not really clubs but places where little known local artists perform and try to get discovered. And there are a lot of local artists, with Berklee College of Music down the road in Boston. Middle East also has a restaurant in case you want to grab a bite before or after a show. Like Avalon and Paradise, some of the shows are 21+ so check before you buy tickets.


Finally, I cannot talk about the arts without mentioning MIT itself. In addition to the many plays, musicals, and concerts of on-campus groups, there are movies sponsored by the Lecture Series Committee (only $3); lectures by authors, professors, and others; and exhibits across campus.

So when all of your science and math classes are weighing you down, explore this great city and let the beauty of it all rejuvenate you. There is enough art to satisfy everyone.