A distinctive and influential force that has shaped the landscape of the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area over the past four centuries is its cultural perspective, introduced by early settlers, transformed by generations of descendants, and absorbed and influenced by waves of immigrant populations.
Steeped in concepts of individual freedom and responsibility, community cooperation, direct democracy, idealism, and social betterment these perspectives have informed national and international movements in governance, education, abolitionism, social justice, conservation and the arts, playing an ongoing role in the evolution of an American identity.
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES
The region includes a number of high-quality museums and galleries.These include the DeCordova Museum (Lincoln), Tufts University Gallery (Medford), Cyrus E. Dallin Art Museum (Arlington), Museum of Russian Icons (Clinton), Fruitlands (Harvard), Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library (Lexington), Concord Museum (Concord), and Fitchburg Art Museum (Fitchburg).
Public art is an important medium through which community sites may be enhanced and interpretation may be offered. Historically, monuments, sculpture, plaques, historical objects, and natural objects such as rocks have been a traditional means of commemorating places and events.
Within the heritage area public art can be found on commons, sidewalks, farms, in parks and along trails where it transforms landscapes and invites people to experience the site through a new lens.
The region contains the homes and landscapes of noted authors and many of these are preserved and interpreted as house museums. These include five house museums (four in Concord and one at Fruitlands Museum in Harvard) where various authors lived, as well as Walden Pond, made famous by Henry Thoreau.
Walden Pond and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where a number of key authors are buried, are pilgrimage sites for many national and international visitors as are the landscapes that inspired literature.
As an example a literary tour of Concord includes The Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott from 1858 to 1877 where she wrote Little Women, The Ralph Waldo Emerson House, The Wayside, The Old Manse, Walden Pond, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, The Concord Bookshop and The Concord Free Library.
THE SHAKERS & RELIGIOUS HERITAGE
Several important sites and attractions within Freedom’s Way relate to the story of the Shakers, telling their stories about their beliefs in gender equality, determinism and liberty as well as their contributions to music, business arts and architecture.
These include privately owned sites within the historic Shaker community in Harvard and the historic Shaker house at Fruitlands Museum.
Agriculture has played a central role in New England’s history over the centuries and has been a defining element of the Freedom’s Way landscape. Today, agriculture in Freedom’s Way features a rich mix of dairy farms, orchards, market gardens, livestock farms, and other specialty endeavors.
Farm stands, community supported agriculture, community gardens and farm attractions are valued by both local residents and visitors. Many communities have preserved farmland as part of their approach to land conservation.
The central and western portions of Freedom’s Way promote publicly accessible farm venues as principal attractions along with outdoor recreational experiences. Freedom’s Way has a number of specialty farms that feature farm stands and pick-your-own opportunities.
Acton Farmers' Market
Amherst Farmers' Market
Arlington Farmers' Market
Carlisle Farmers' Market
Fitchburg Farmers' Market
Gardner Farmers' Market
Groton Farmers' Market
Harvard Farmers' Market
Leominster Farmers' Market
Lunenburg Farmers' Market
Milford Farmers' Market
Milford Winter Farmers' Market
Nashua Farmers' Market
Pepperell Farmers' Market
Shirley Center Farmers' Market
Sterling Farmers' Market
Sterling Winter Farmers' Market
Westford Farmers' Market
Westminster Farmers' Market
Winchendon Farmers' Market
Andres Institute of Art
Boulder Art Gallery
Gallery of African Art
Tufts University Art Gallery
Caesar Robbins House
Cyrus E. Dallin Art Museum
deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
Fitchburg Art Museum
Fort Devens Museum
Frederick Collection of Historic Pianos
Gardner Heritage State Park
Jason Russell House
Longfellow's Wayside Inn
Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House
Museum of Russian Icons
National Heritage Museum
Old Schwamb Mill
Ralph Waldo Emerson House
Royall House and Slave Quarters
Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library