Given Worcester’s  reputation, many natives are surprised to discover the city even has an art museum, never mind that it’s one of the very best in New England. Though the Worcester Art Museum (55 Salisbury St., 508/799-4406, www.worcesterart.org , 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Fri., 11 a.m.–8 p.m. third Thurs. of every month, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat., $10 adults, $8 seniors and students, free children under 18) does have some paintings by top-name artists—such as Paul Gauguin’s excellent The Brooding Woman—most of the collection focuses on areas rarely covered by other museums, making the halls of WAM (as it’s known) a constant discovery.
Among the museum’s strengths are a wonderful collection of early American portraits, dozens of medieval paintings and sculptures, and a good cross-section of pre-Columbian Native American artwork. Weekly tours are given by docents on Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.