The 7th-smallest state in the United States, Massachusetts packs plenty of culture into its modest borders, with some great events and exhibitions taking place here throughout the year.
While Boston is at the heart of Massachusetts’s busy events calendar, venture beyond the bustling state capital and you’ll soon discover that the region’s cultural leanings extend far and wide. If you’re exploring Massachusetts outside of Boston this February and are keen to avoid the often-bracing temperatures by finding some fun indoor attractions, we’ve picked out 7 of the best events taking place across the month.
Black History Month
Throughout February, the American Heritage Museum will be celebrating Black History Month with a range of historically important exhibits and displays. Among them will be the Tuskegee PT-17 Stearman – the last fully-restored and flying Stearman aircraft originally used by the U.S. Army Air Corps to train Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American military aviators, during World War II. Also celebrated will be the Black Panthers, an all-black tank battalion, and Dorie Miller, a mess steward on a ship sunk at Pearl Harbor whose heroic action earned him one of the war’s first medals issued to a black soldier. There’ll also be the chance to enjoy a truly immersive experience where you can ride in or drive two of the most iconic American tanks from the war.
American Heritage Museum, Hudson / Throughout February
Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate and Ice Festival
Each February for the past two decades, the streets of Salem have been given over to a decadent weekend of delectable chocolate and wine tastings, sparkling ice sculpture displays, and Valentine’s Day shopping. During the event, imaginative frozen sculptures are installed around the city’s downtown district complete with illuminations that are brought to life come nightfall to create a captivating light show. Meanwhile wine and chocolate tasting events take place at several venues, local businesses offer unique Valentine’s gifts, and restaurants serve chocolate-themed dishes.
Venues across Salem, / 10-13 February 2022
‘Repro Japan: Technologies of Popular Visual Culture’ exhibition
This exhibition shines a light on Japan’s Edo period (1603–1868), a time when the growth of urban audiences and new popular entertainments developed in tandem with ground-breaking printing technologies. This resulted in the rise of new forms of visual culture – including colour woodblock prints and printed textiles – that could be mass-produced, transformed, and consumed. Subsequently, photography and electronic media have fostered the global spread of Japanese popular visual culture, including manga, anime, cosplay, and sub-cultural fashion. This spread across different technologies, eras, and cultures has produced an incredible diversity of material, while, at the same time, the central themes and motifs – sports, fashion, and fighting, along with fantasies of all kinds—have remained consistent.
Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown / Through 19 March 2022
“My Mechanical Sketchbook” exhibition
The camera and photographic image played a significant and multifaceted role in the work of the late American painter Barkley L. Hendricks. This exhibition presents Hendricks’s photographs as autonomous artworks, models for oil paintings, and as “mechanical sketchbooks” – to cite the artist’s own words – that helped him capture and recall many of his own meaningful visions and insights. In doing so, the exhibition serves to illuminate the deep connection between Hendricks’s myriad forms of creative expression and photographs, Polaroids, paintings, and works on paper, offering new knowledge about this important and versatile artist.
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham / 10 February – 24 July 2022
‘Light, Space, Surface’ exhibition
Organised by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, this exhibition delves into the art of Light and Space. In the 1960s and 1970s, various Southern California artists began to create works that investigate perceptual phenomena: how we come to understand form, volume, presence, and absence through light. Many used newly developed industrial materials – including sheet acrylic, fibreglass, and polyester resin – in their work. The exhibition draws on the museum’s collection of this material, revealing the vibrancy and diversity of this aspect of American art history.
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover / Through February 2022
‘Turn the Tide’ exhibition
This exhibition explores the delicate beauty of coral reefs through the eyes of Los Angeles-based artist, Courtney Mattison. Mattison hand-crafts intricately detailed and large-scale ceramic sculptural works drawing from her background in marine conservation. Visitors will consider the devastating effects of ocean warming as they observe aesthetically stunning and thought-provoking fine art with an environmentally conscious message. The exhibition also features several rare objects from the museum’s permanent collection such as coral and sponge specimens – including “Venus flower baskets,” Red “pipe organ” coral, and purple sea fan.
Whaling Museum, New Bedford / Through 1 May 2022
The city of Lowell holds its annual Winterfest every February, featuring a weekend full of seasonal fun. There’s a Winter Market showcasing arts and crafts, speciality foods, and apparel made by local artisans, a Craft Beer show, and a diverse line-up of live music acts, while kids can enjoy a traditional carousel and ice-skating, not to mention an all-you-can-eat chocolate event. Other highlights include the North Bowl Soup Competition, where visitors sample a variety of soups from local restaurants before selecting their favourite, the National Human Dogsled Championship, and various outdoor games and amusements. The day ends with a spectacular fireworks display.
Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Lowell / 18-19 February 2022
By Paul Joseph