Visit Us

The Collection of Historical Scientfic Instruments is one of the four Harvard Museums of Science & Culture. We encourage you to read our Know Before You Go policies.

Hours

Open Sunday through Friday from 11:00am to 4:00pm

Closed Thanksgiving Day, December 24, December 25, and January 1

Admission

Admission is free. Children under 12 years of age must be escorted by an adult.

Group Visits

While the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments is available for small adult & young adult group visits, physical constraints limit the maximum of visitors in either of our galleries to 10 persons at any given time. Please be advised that while we can offer visitors a fascinating and insightful visit, ours is not a hands-on collection, and there are no interactive features.

Contact Group Reservations for further information. Please register all group visits at least two weeks in advance. Due to small staff size, we may not be able to accommodate entry without advance registration.

Harvard Faculty who wish to schedule a class visit may contact CHSI Curator Sara Schechner.

Accessibility

The CHSI is located within Harvard's Science Center, which has three accessible entrances:

  • The front entrance on the south side of the building (via the Science Center Plaza)
  • The Oxford Street entrance on the east side of the building (via a ramp ascending from Oxford Street)
  • The rear entrance on the north side of the building (via a walkway leading from the Littauer Parking Lot west of the building)

The Putnam Gallery (1st floor) and the Special Exhibitions Gallery (2nd floor), both near the Oxford Street entrance to the building, are wheelchair accessible. Access to the second floor may be gained via a bank of elevators located near the intersection of the first floor corridors.

Accessible restrooms are located on the basement level beneath the building's central atrium, via a bank of elevators located near the intersection of the first floor corridors.

Service animals are welcome in the CHSI galleries and throughout the building.

Accessible Parking: See instructions in the "Parking" section below.

Below is an interactive Google Map indicating the location of the Harvard Science Center, 1 Oxford Street. Both the Putnam and the Special Exhibition galleries are located just inside the Oxford Street entrance on the east side of the building.

Directions

Taking the MBTA (The T or Commuter Rail)

Taking the Subway (The T) 
This the best way to get to the CHSI. Take a Red Line train OUTBOUND from Boston or Alewife INBOUND to Harvard Square
(Alewife Station, located off Route 2 in Cambridge, has a garage with $9.00 all day parking ($3.00 on weekends) ) . The Harvard Square T station has multiple exits; take a Massachusetts Avenue exit. Once above ground, look for the Harvard Yard gates and walk diagonally (north-northeast) through Harvard Yard to the other side, and out the gates. The Science Center will be directly in front of you, with Memorial Hall on the right (the large, ornate, brick building with tower, home of Sanders Theater). Proceed into the Science Center, passing the Cabot Science Library and Clover Cafe on your right, until you approach a metal-clad guard desk at the corner of a corridor running along the east-west axis of the building. Turn right (east) at the desk, and proceed toward the glass doors at the far end of the corridor. After passing the Science Center courtyard, the entrance to The Putnam Gallery will be the first grey double doors on the right. Access to the The Special Exhibitions Gallery on the second floor will be up the double flight of stairs opposite from the Putnam Gallery entrance (There is also a bank of elevators directly opposite the aforementioned guard desk.).

Taking the MBTA Commuter Rail
Take the Fitchburg Line to the Porter Square stop. Exit the rail pad onto Somerville Avenue, the turn West, and turn left onto the Beacon Street bridge. Proceed approximately 100 yards south, then make a gentle right onto Oxford Street. Follow Oxford Street 3/4 of a mile to the Harvard Science Center, 1 Oxford Street (where Oxford Street intersects Kirkland Street at a right angle.). 
Enter the building on your right through the doors up the steps. The entrance to The Putnam Gallery will be the second grey double doors on the left. Access to the The Special Exhibitions Gallery on the second floor will be up the double flight of stairs opposite from the Putnam Gallery entrance (There is also a bank of elevators located down the corridor just past the Science Center courtyard.).

By Car from the North

By car from the north, take I-93 or Route 1 South toward Boston. Take the exit for Storrow Drive/Cambridge. Follow Storrow Drive west for approximately four miles. Stay in the right lane to avoid the many left exits off Storrow Drive. Take the Harvard Square/Cambridge exit. Cross the bridge over the Charles River into Cambridge, continuing straight through the first light onto JFK Street. At the fourth light, bear slightly to the right to pass through Harvard Square. The Harvard Coop is on the left and the Harvard Square T station is on the right. At the next light, the road dips downhill toward a fork. Bear left at the fork, then bear right at the next light to continue north on Massachusetts Avenue. Go approximately two-tenths of a mile past the Cambridge Common (on the left), and Harvard Law School (on the right), and turn right onto Everett Street. At the next set of lights, turn right on Oxford Street. The Science Center is located straight ahead at the corner where Oxford and Kirkland Streets intersect at a right angle. The entrance to The Putnam Gallery is located just inside the Oxford Street entrance to the building on the left. The Special Exhibitions Gallery is reached via the short flight of stairs nearby on the right. NOTE: There are a limited number of parking meters on Oxford Street.

By Car from the West

Take I-90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) east to the left exit for Cambridge/Allston and follow signs for Cambridge. At the end of the Turnpike exit, there is the ten-story DoubleTree Suites Hotel on the right. Begin to move to the left lane. There is a traffic light at the corner of the hotel and a bridge to Cambridge straight ahead. Do not take the bridge. At the light, take an immediate left onto an entrance ramp for Storrow Drive along the Boston side of the river. Follow Storrow Drive approximately a half-mile to the Harvard Square/Cambridge exit. Cross the bridge over the Charles River into Cambridge, continuing straight through the first light onto JFK Street. At the fourth light, bear slightly to the right to pass through Harvard Square. The Harvard Coop is on the left and the Harvard Square T station is on the right. At the next light, the road dips downhill toward a fork. Bear left at the fork, then bear right at the next light to continue north on Massachusetts Avenue. Go approximately two-tenths of a mile past the Cambridge Common (on the left), and Harvard Law School (on the right), and turn right onto Everett Street. At the next set of lights, turn right on Oxford Street. The Science Center is located straight ahead at the corner where Oxford and Kirkland Streets intersect at a right angle. The entrance to The Putnam Gallery is located just inside the Oxford Street entrance to the building on the left. The Special Exhibitions Gallery is reached via the short flight of stairs nearby on the right. NOTE: There are a limited number of parking meters on Oxford Street.

By Car from the South

From Route 3 or I-93 (South East Expressway) North, take the Storrow Drive exit to the Harvard Square/Cambridge Exit. Cross the bridge over the Charles River into Cambridge, continuing straight through the first light onto JFK Street. At the fourth light, bear slightly to the right to pass through Harvard Square. The Harvard Coop is on the left and the Harvard Square T station is on the right. At the next light, the road dips downhill toward a fork. Bear left at the fork, then bear right at the next light to continue north on Massachusetts Avenue. Go approximately two-tenths of a mile past the Cambridge Common (on the left), and Harvard Law School (on the right), and turn right onto Everett Street. At the next set of lights, turn right on Oxford Street. The Science Center is located straight ahead at the corner where Oxford and Kirkland Streets intersect at a right angle. The entrance to The Putnam Gallery is located just inside the Oxford Street entrance to the building on the left. The Special Exhibitions Gallery is reached via the short flight of stairs nearby on the right. NOTE: There are a limited number of parking meters on Oxford Street.

Parking

Parking in Harvard Square

The Harvard Square Hotel
110 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, Mass. 02138

617-864-5200

Parking at the Smith Campus Center
1350 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, Mass. 02138
(617) 496-7827

Harvard Square Parking Garage
20 Eliot St., Cambridge, Mass. 02138
617-354-4168

University Place Garage
124 Mount Auburn St, Cambridge, Mass. 02138
617-491-0801

Charles Square Garage (Charles Hotel)
1 Bennett St Cambridge, Mass. 02138
617-491-0298

Metered Parking

There are a limited number of two-hour metered spaces located on Oxford and Kirkland Streets. These meters only accept US quarters. After 8:00 pm the meters do not require coins but may be restricted to Cambridge residents. Parking is free on Sundays, and resident permits are not required. Please read the street signs carefully.

Harvard University Garages

One-day permits for Harvard University garages may be purchased via credit card by registering a Visitor Account at Harvard Online Parking Permit System on a space-available basis. For further questions about parking, call (617) 496-7827 or email parking@harvard.edu.

Accessible Parking

Accessible spaces are available at the Oxford Street Garage (52 Oxford Street). The clearance for accessible vehicles is eight feet two inches. The garage is 2 city blocks from the museum. Permits must be purchased online.

Before proceeding to the online form, please note the following:

  • First-time users must create a user name and password.
  • You must print out your parking permit.
  • License plate number is required.
  • Request a permit for the Oxford Street Garage, located at 52 Oxford Street.
  • Select the correct date (permits are not transferable).
  • Select "Museum Visitor" from the department drop down list.
  • The museum's department code is 6137.  

Purchase a parking permit