"In our next exhibit here at the Boston Society of Natural History, you see two dioramas of our fair city." Those are the words you would hear if you were actually in a museum, rather than an office building in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, while enjoying these little time capsules.
Located in the lobby of The Newbry building (formerly the New England Life Building) on Boylston Street, these dioramas "were commissioned by the Boston Society of Natural History in 1863 and created by Sarah Ann Rockwell," according to Atlas Obscura. "The backdrops were painted by Henry Brooks. The level of detail is amazing and they give an intriguing picture of everyday life at the time."
There are four scenes in this publicly accessible office building (enter from the Newbury Street side):
*The home of William Blaxton, the first European settler of modern-day Boston and Rhode Island, according to Wikipedia. In the background is a painting of Trimount, which means "three hills" and once comprised Beacon, Mt. Vernon and Pemberton hills.
*The Boylston Street fishweir, a Native American fishing structure thought to date back roughly 2,000 years and discovered in 1913 during excavation for a subway tunnel.
*The filling in of Back Bay, a process that expanded Boston's footprint from 1804 until the late 1880's.
*The Boston Society of Natural History building, with MIT's Rogers Hall under construction. Built in 1864, the BSNH building is now a Restoration Hardware. Prior to that it was home to Louis Boston, a high-end men's fashion retailer that relocated to Boston's Seaport district a few years ago. The BSNH eventually evolved into the Museum of Science.
(The BSNH and Rogers Hall diorama.)
The Atlas Obscura article doesn't make it clear how the dioramas ended up in The Newbry, or how long the exhibits have been there.