Boston Museum, 1852.
Boston Museum, Tremont street, 1888.
The Boston Museum was one of the leading theaters of 19th Century Boston. The first building was erected in 1841 at Tremont and Bromfield street, and its immediate success lead five years later to a new, larger building being constructed, again on Tremont street, this time between School street and Scollay square.
The Boston Museum was founded by Moses Kimball. Kimball first bought the New England Museum, and then transferred its contents to the new Boston Museum. The facility actually was a museum, containing stuffed birds and animals, and other natural curiousities. During the 1840s, Kimball became a friend and associate of P.T. Barnum, and often shared exhibits with him. The (in)famous Feegee Mermaid was one of these, a half-orangutan/half fish construction that had a great popularity.
In spite of its origin as a Barnum-type curiousity showplace, the Boston Museum is best remembered as a theater. It is suggested that the facility was given the name museum to avoid the opprobrium of Purtian Boston. More likely, it truly was a museum at the beginning but over time the Museum became one of the country's leading theaters. The first American productions of both Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and H.M.S. Pinafore occurred on the Boston Museum stage.
Moses Kimball died in 1895, and the Boston Museum closed in 1903.