Atlas Obscura says 5 of ‘the world’s hidden wonders’ are in Massachusetts

The book also highlights 13 Boston spots worth exploring.

As a musician, Timberlake would appreciate the awe-inspiring acoustics of the Mary Baker Eddy Library’s Mapparium. The 1935 constructed world map has been experienced by more than 10 million people, according the library’s website. Why? It is said that if someone stands on one end of the globe-like structure, a person on the opposite end can hear the first person’s whisper.
The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston, is featured in the book. –Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Five of the world’s hidden wonders are here in Massachusetts, according to a new Atlas Obscura book, due out Oct. 15.

Atlas Obscura, 2nd Edition: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders” by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton, details unusual destinations around the planet. The first Atlas Obscura book, released in 2016, was a New York Times bestseller.

Five Massachusetts experiences made the cut: the Mapparium, Ether Dome, and James Allen’s Biography, all in Boston; the Museum of Bad Art in Somerville; and the Paper House in Rockport.

In Boston, the Mapparium is a famous three-story stained-glass globe inside the Mary Baker Eddy Library and “the only place in the world in which the surface of the Earth can be seen without distortion,” according to the authors. James Allen’s biography at the Boston Athenaeum, “Narrative of the Life of James Allen,” is a book bound in the skin of its author. And the Ether Dome at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital, is where visitors can see where the first surgery using ether took place in 1846.

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Over in Somerville, the Museum of Bad Art features artwork where “there is a glaring gap between the artist’s sincerity and skill level,” according to the authors. The museum is currently closed for renovations, according to its website, but you can view the art online.

In Rockport, the Paper House is a 1922 home made of newspaper.

The Paper House in Rockport. —Danielle Walquist Lynch / flickr

The book also features a Boston city guide, which briefly highlights the following 13 spots:

  • All Saints Way in the North End, a narrow alleyway wall that serves as a shrine to Catholic saints
  • Dutch House in Brookline, a four-story Dutch Renaissance-style structure built for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair
  • Franklin Park Zoo Bear Dens in Roxbury, the bear dens of the first Franklin Park Zoo
  • Granary Burying Ground in Boston, a cemetery founded in 1660
  • Infinite Corridor (MIThenge) in Cambridge, an 825-foot corridor that goes through multiple MIT buildings
  • Jamaica Pond Bench in Jamaica Plain, a u-shaped seatless park bench
  • Madonna Queen National Shrine in East Boston, a 35-foot statue of “Madonna, Queen of the Universe” built in 1954
  • Mark I at Harvard’s Science Center in Cambridge, a 51-foot-long WWII calculator
  • Metropolitan Waterworks Museum in Chestnut Hill, home of the steam-powered pumping engines that supplied Boston’s water in the 1880s
  • Molasses Flood Plaque in the North End, the site of the Great Molasses Flood of 1919
  • Museum of Modern Renaissance in Somerville, a former Masonic hall that is now a mystical temple of art
  • Steinert Hall in Boston, a 19th-century concert hall located four floors beneath a piano store that closed in 1942
  • Venetian Palace Diorama in the North End, a miniature replica of the Doge’s Palace at the Boston Public Library’s North End branch
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January 17, 2020 | 1:32 PM