Information on:

Metropolitan Waterworks Museum

2450 Beacon Street


The Waterworks Museum is located on the site of the original Chestnut Hill Reservoir and pumping station. By the 1880’s, Boston’s water system couldn’t keep up with the rapid growth of the city and its water needs. Chestnut Hill was identified as the location for a new reservoir and main pumping station. The original station was built in 1887, but by the 1890’s, it was clear that demand had quickly outstripped the ability to transport sufficient water. The need for more water resulted in the installation of increasingly powerful (and enormous!) pumping engines, which operated every day until the 1970’s, when the site was taken offline, and Boston’s water supply shifted to the Quabbin Reservoir. The Chestnut Hill Reservoir, however, is still used as a back-up source of water in case of emergencies.

We tell some important regional stories about clean water, health, people, brilliant engineers, and magnificent architecture. Our stories tell how Boston grew to be the city it is today.

You can explore the remarkable machinery, wonder at the massive wrenches that kept the pumps running, and marvel at the beautiful architecture. You can take a walking tour of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, the centerpiece of an extraordinary landscaping project, or venture out on an all-day bus excursion, led by experts on all things water-related. You can attend special events, talks, or if you are a teacher, visit with a school group. In the future, you will be able to hear podcasts of some of our events!

If that’s not enough, come because it’s a fun way to learn about your city’s history!

Our Background Story

Our tax-exempt nonprofit 501(C)(3) nonprofit educational organization, Metropolitan Waterworks Museum Inc. (MWM), took title to the 22,000 sq. ft. Waterworks Museum in 2009.  The museum is governed by a Board of Directors, and is is operated by a professional staff. The Waterworks Preservation Trust is the fiduciary for an endowment that benefits the Museum. 

The Waterworks Museum consists of the Great Engines Hall, housing three historic, steam-powered pumping engines, and a two story glass-enclosed pavilion, featuring the Overlook Gallery, available on an advance-booking basis to non-profit community and civic groups in Allston-Brighton, Brookline, and Newton.

The Friends of the Waterworks, Inc., the MWM’s predecessor, advocated since 1991 for the preservation of this former eight-acre Metropolitan Water Works site and the historic building. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed legislation in 2005, authorizing the sale of this site, including its three historic buildings, for re-development, subject to preservation restrictions.

MWM took title to this condominium unit from the private developer of Waterworks Park. The Waterworks Museum is part of the Museum Building, which also contains four condominium residences. The remaining buildings, including the new curved Watermark Building, contain an additional 108 condominium residences. We want your visit to be extraordinary, but we ask that you remain respectful of our residential neighbors.


Nina Jordan

Friday, May 18, 2018
Interesting for architecture, engineering, and history of water sources! Also interesting to learn about and compare the past to the present method of getting fresh drinking water to Boston. One gets to see (up close) three antique very large steam engines used for pumping water. And each one was configured differently. Ask questions of the docents who are willing to talk to you and watch the short videos available. Only takes 1 to 2 hours.

Alexander Sudyn

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
An incredibly well put together museum. Beautiful exhibits with an interesting and well presented history and wonderfully helpful and informative staff. I left with a newfound love of public water systems that I never knew I had!

Hien Nguyen

Sunday, June 10, 2018
A stream punk heaven. Intricate pipes, valves, gears band mysterious contraptions. Interesting history of how Boston used to get it's water. Free but with a requested donation of $5 per person (but you're not obligated to pay)

josh blumental

Thursday, March 29, 2018
Really great spot!!! Make sure to get a tour from Marty, he loves to geek out on pump tech. It’s amazing to see the 3 generations of pumps next to each other.

James Kasischke

Thursday, May 3, 2018
Interesting museum showing public w orks history in Boston. Guide was very knowledgeable.

Metropolitan Waterworks Museum is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media