Connecticut museums & galleries offer fine art, science, children's exhibits
Connecticut's museums and galleries have a wide range of wonderful offerings. Major art museums includes the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, host to paintings of the Hudson River School; the Bruce Museum in Greenwich; and the Florence Griswold Museum in East Lyme, a historic colony of American Impressionists. Places like the Rose Cottage and the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum are a blend of museum and historic home
. The Connecticut Science Center in Hartford is an up-to-the-minute presenter of topics in science. The state has many wonderful children's museums in every region. And don't forget the Barnum Museum of circus lore in Bridgeport.
Norwich Free Academy - 108 Crescent Street
Norwich, CT, 06360
Unique museum offers the past in a magnificent edifice
Set on the campus of Norwich Free Academy in Norwich CT, this unique museum was founded by philanthropist William A. Slater more than a century ago. Housed in a stunning architectural treasure designed by architect Stephen C. Earle. The museum offers a diverse collection of fine and decorative arts, replicas of great Greek and Roman sculpture, historical artifacts, and ethnographic material spanning five continents and 35 centuries. Exhibits rotate regularly. See film screenings, discussions, book signings, and other events. An interpreter-guided tour is free with admission. The Museum shop is filled with unique gifts, including fine art prints and reproductions, the works of Connecticut artisans, and other items. Open year round, Tuesday-Sunday.
77 Forest Street
Hartford, CT, 06105
Stowe Center features a treasure trove about historic abolitionist author
Listed as a National Historic Landmark and a stop on the Connecticut Freedom Trail as well as on the Connecticut Women’s Heritage Trail, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is a treasure trove of collections that illuminate the life of and issues that stirred the famous abolitionist author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Rotating exhibits deal with the life of slaves and the role of women. Collections include paintings (some by the author), memorabilia inspired by “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” the dining table where the book was written, decorative arts, rare manuscripts, drawings and household furnishings from the Beecher and Stowe families. In all, 228,000 items illustrate the lives and times of Stowe and her family. Interactive tours of her Victorian Gothic cottage leave visitors inspired.
1080 Chapel Street
New Haven, CT, 06510
America’s home of the finest in British Art
The Center houses the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom. Presented to the university by Paul Mellon (Yale College, Class of 1929), the collection reflects the development of British art and culture from the Elizabethan period onward. It includes more than 2,000 paintings, 250 sculptures, 20,000 drawings and watercolors, 40,000 prints, and 35,000 rare books and manuscripts. More than 40,000 volumes supporting research in British art and related fields are available in the Center’s Reference Library. The Center offers exhibitions and programs, including lectures, concerts, films, symposia, tours, and family events. Museum hours: Tues–Sat, 10 am–5 pm; Sun, noon–5 pm. Museum Shop hours: Mon–Sat, 10 am–5 pm; Sun, noon–5 pm. Free and open to the public.
55 Coogan Boulevard
Mystic, CT, 06355
Where learning and discovery meets fun
Enrich your mind, roll up your sleeves, expand your knowledge and get involved at Mystic Aquarium. Discover thousands of marine animals throughout indoor and outdoor exhibits where beluga whales, African penguins, frogs, fish and so many other animals act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts. Experience the sensation of a shark or stingray as it glides below your fingers. Daily complimentary sea lion shows provide a truly unique opportunity to see these fascinating animals up-close and in action. And now, travel back in time to encounter animatronic dinosaurs in ‘Jurassic Giants!’ Participate in various events throughout the year and become a champion for change. Learn how you can join our mission to protect our ocean planet. SEA more at MysticAquarium.org.
Mathews Park - 303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT, 06850
The kids will never want to leave this engaging, interactive museum
The only problem with taking your kids to the interactive Stepping Stones Museum for Children will be persuading them it’s time to go home. There is so much to do! Little ones will love being residents of Tot Town, where babies roam activity mats and toddlers can explore a school bus. Older children will pretend to finish walls, paint and apply wallpaper in the Build It exhibit, or learn about the effect of art and dance on their emotions in Express Yourself. And everyone will be amazed by the 27-foot kinetic sculpture ColorCoaster, films shown in the Multimedia Gallery and daily drop-in programs in everything from engineering to zumba for kids. Outdoors, there’s a playground and six community gardens (including one for butterflies).
199 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT, 06840
Unique architectural treasure in New Canaan
This remarkable showcase for contemporary architecture was the country home and is now a museum of architect Philip Johnson’s work and style. You’ll find 14 unique structures each with their own function. The Glass House is a clear box, without walls, without privacy in fact, not a single house at all. Instead of walking from room to room, Johnson walked from building to building on paths criss-crossing his property. The pavilion was designed for parties and viewing the scenic landscape. Johnson slept and read in the Brick House and studied and worked in the library. The Grainger had air conditioning and the TV. Today the entire 49-acre compound is a National Trust Historic Site. Open May 1 to November 30.
211 Main Street
Wethersfield, CT, 06109
This museum consists of three houses, each built in the 18th century. Two are now National Historic Landmarks, with each furnished to represent a different period in American history. In 1781, on this site, Washington and his partners planned their strategy that led to the American victory at Yorktown. Tours begin every hour on the hour up until 3 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $6, seniors, $5, students, $2.50.
67 Main Street, Steamboat Dock
Essex, CT, 06426
A year-round adventure through nature, history & life on the sea
Discover the exciting history and spectacular environment of New England’s Great River at the Connecticut River Museum, located in beautiful Essex Village. Bring your family and explore the exhibits! Climb aboard a replica of the Turtle submarine and find out what it was like to be a submarine pilot during the American Revolution. Walk all 410 miles of the River as you travel our vertical gallery filled with fantastic aerial photos and a whimsical mural of the River. Learn the stories of people and the River from Native Americans through the present in our three floors of exhibits. Complete your visit with a picnic lunch and a chance to run around on the Museum’s riverfront lawn.
The Connecticut River Museum offers seasonal exhibits and programs as well. Come November – February for the magic of our annual Holiday Train Show; visit in February and March to see the wintering Bald Eagles on one of our EagleWatch Boat Tours; and spend a summer day sailing on the River on the historic wooden sailing ship Onrust. Rent a canoe or kayak and paddle the quiet coves.
Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
110 Pequot Trail
Mashantucket, CT, 06338
Permanent exhibits on the Native and natural history of southern New England include a cool descent into a glacial crevasse from 18,000 years ago. Walk through a 1550 Pequot Village. Interactive computer programs, films providing additional information and interpretation of the exhibits. Two research libraries, one for children. Museum store and restaurant.
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; last admission at 4 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $15; seniors, $13; children age 6-15, $10; under 6 free.
Windham Textile and History Museum
411 Main Street
Willimantic, CT, 06226
Museum preserves the textile industry of southern New England at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Exhibits include thread factory floor, rooms from a workers rowhouse and owner’s mansion.
Hours: Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Guided tours Sunday at 3 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $7; seniors and students, $5.
Brayton Grist Mill and Marcy Blacksmith Museum
Pomfret, CT, 06258
This fine example of a one-man mill operation of the 1890's has original milling equipment. The tool exhibit represents the craft of three generations of blacksmiths. Maintained by the Pomfret Historical Society.
Hours: Call for hours of operation.
Admission: Free; donations welcome.
Connecticut Children's Museum
22 Wall Street
New Haven, CT, 06511
Interactive, innovative and inclusive museum with eight rooms of hands-on exhibits, observation bee hive, the Great Green Room from Goodnight Moon, and a pint-size post office.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $14.75 (regular planetarium show included); children age 2-12 and seniors over age 62, $13.75 (regular planetarium show included.
Mystic Seaport Museum of America and the Sea
75 Greenmanville Avenue
Mystic Seaport is a maritime museum that preserves artifacts of America’s seafaring past. The Seaport’s grounds cover 19 acres on the Mystic River and include a re-created 19th-century coastal village, a working shipyard, and formal exhibit halls. The Seaport is home to more than 500 historic watercraft, including four National Historic Landmark vessels, most notably the 1841 whale ship Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest commercial ship still in existence. The Seaport is a great adventure for families. It hosts many seasonal celebrations, along with exhibits and festivals related to seafaring life, such as the annual sea music festival and a lobster fest. A gift shop on the grounds has many high-quality products, from books and maps to toys and home décor, all with a seafaring theme. Open year-round
Ballard Institute & Museum of Puppetry
Weaver Road (off Route 44)
Storrs, CT, 06269
Collection of more than 2,000 puppets from the world over. Each exhibition features a different view of the variety of styles and periods in puppetry.
Hours: Friday-Sunday, noon-5 p.m. or by appointment
Admission: Free; donations accepted.
Old Manchester Museum
126 Cedar Street
Manchester, CT, 06040
Local historical artifacts including Pitkin Glass Works, Cheney Brothers Silk Mills, Bon Ami Soap Co., military memorial. Manchester Sports Hall of Fame, research and genealogy library, gift shop.
Hours: Weekends, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $2; children age 16 and younger, free.
The Barnum Museum
820 Main Street
Bridgeport, CT, 06604
Dedicated to the life of circus imnpresario Phineas Taylor Barnum and those who were influenced by his presence in their lives. 1892 building houses exhibits including a miniature circus model, ancient mummy, historic costumes, Tom Thumb carriages. Museum store.
Hours: Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $8; seniors over age 65 and and children age 4 to 17, $5; students, $5.
Connecticut Science Center
250 Columbus Blvd.
Hartford, CT, 06103
A visit to the Center is a high-impact learning experience in a green, clean, bright, and stimulating environment. Adults and children alike will find entertainment and educational value in hands-on, engaging, and exciting exhibits and programs that emphasize current science and science you can use every day. Open year-round.
Hours Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $21.95; seniors above age 65, $19.95; youth ages 3 to 17, $14.95. Information: www.ctsciencecenter.org
Shore Line Trolley Museum
17 River Street
East Haven, CT, 06512
The first half of the twentieth century comes to life throughout this large trolley yard and trolley system. Discover the stories behind painted trolleys, check out trolley equipment, and marvel at photos of days long past. See full description
of Shore Line Trolley Museum
96 Lyme Stree
Old Lyme, CT
In the early 20th century, Florence Griswold’s boarding house in Old Lyme was the hub of one of the most important summer art colonies in America. The colony attracted artists Henry Ward Ranger, Childe Hassam, and Willard Metcalf and others who were in the vanguard of the Tonalist and Impressionist movements. Today, visitors see the boarding house and much of the work of these American Impressionists, an adjacent gallery building with rotating exhibits, and extensive gardens. Special programs are offered in summer and holiday seasons.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Closed on major holidays.
Admission: Adults, $10; seniors, $9; students, $8; free of children under age 12. Information:
New Britain Industrial Museum
185 Main Street
New Britain, CT, 06051
This history of manufacturing in Central Connecticut is detailed in this museum, featuring exhibits of products made in the region over the past 200 years.
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 2-5 p.m.; Wednesdays. noon-5 p.m.
Military Historians Museum
N. Main St.
Westbrook, CT, 06498
The largest collection of American military uniforms in the country. Unit crest insignia, vehicles from World War II Weasel to a Desert Storm truck, music room, research center.
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m., and by appointment.
Stamford Museum & Nature Center
39 Scofieldtown Road
Stamford, CT, 06903
Children and parents can take part in all sorts of activities and experiences in nature surrounded by this working farm, hiking trails, playground, handicap-accessible boardwalk, and planetarium. Check website for programs, hours, and admission. Information: www.stamfordmuseum.org.
Museum of Connecticut History
231 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT, 06106
Historic documents, including Connecticut's Royal Charter, are just part of the exhibit material in this museum. Special exhibits feature Colt firearms, Connecticut's Governors and changing exhibits.
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Closed on state holidays
144 West Main Street
Waterbury, CT, 06702
Exhibits chronicle the industrial history of the Naugatuck Valley as well as its social, architectural and cultural past. Period settings, decorative arts, furniture, 19th- and 20th-century art, changing exhibits. Cafe, museum shop.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.; closed major holidays
Admission: Adults age 16 and older, $5; seniors over age 65, $4; children under age 16, free.
Luddy/Taylor Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum
Northwest Park, 135 Lang Rd.
Windsor, CT, 06095
Displays of artifacts and history of "Tobacco Valley." Tobacco curing shed houses exhibits of early and modern equipment. Other facility exhibits photographs, writings, and other documents.
Hours: March-mid-December, Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday, noon-4 p.m. and by appointment
Barker Character, Comic & Cartoon Museum
1188 Highland Ave. (Route 10)
Cheshire, CT, 06410
Over 80,000 items including toys and character collectibles from 1873 to present; Western, TV and advertising collectibles; cartoon memorabilia; official musuem for Celebriducks, the California Raisin and Gumby; sculpture gallery.
Hours:Wednesday through Saturday, noon-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $5; children age 2 to 12, $3.
Military Museum of Southern New England
125 Park Avenue
Danbury, CT, 06810
Life-size interior dioramas with military vehicles and equipment. Large collection of models and dioramas depicting World War II scenes. Outdoor exhibits of tanks and heavy material. Gift shop.
Hours: April-November, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.; December-March, Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $6; seniors, children, and active-duty military member, $4.
Carousel Museum of New England
95 Riverside Avenue
Bristol, CT, 06010
One of two branches of this unique museum. Exhibits feature antique carousel horses, miniature carousels, and a historic carving shop. Exhibits represent the finest pieces of antique carousel art in existence. The Bristol Center for Arts and Culture features three galleries that include fine art exhibits. The Museum of Fire History displays fire department and firehouse memorabilia. Gift shop.
Hours: March-December, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, noon- 5 p.m.; open during local school holidays.
Admission: Adults, $6; seniors, $4.50, children age 4-14, $3.50; children age 1-2, $2.
The Trash Museum
211 Murphy Rd.
Hartford, CT, 06114
Educational facility, tours and hands-on exhibits on solid waste management and recycling, including the "Temple of Trash;" adjacent to recycle center.
Hours: Wednesday-Friday, noon-4 p.m.
Admission: $3 per person.
Prudence Crandall Museum
Junction Routes 14 and 169
Canterbury, CT, 06331
The Prudence Crandall Museum is a collection of objects, from clothing to books and more, from the life and times of Prudence Crandall, a female abolitionist teacher whose legacy is left here. See full description
of the Prudence Crandall Museum
Museum of the Fife and Drum
Highland Terrace at 63 North Main Street
Ivoryton, CT, 06442
Exhibits focus on the fife and drum, not only as an important symbol of American patriotism during the Revolutionary period, but as an integral part of military strategy in the 17th and 18th centuries. The museum is a visual and musical history of America on parade, from the Revolutionary War to the present. Theme displays feature drums, fifes, military swords, music, uniforms, medals, awards and photographs.
Hours: June 30 through Labor Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.; third weekend of July and fourth weekend of August reserved for private activities.
Admission; Adults, $5; youth age 12-17, $4; seniors, $3; children under age 12, free.
Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut
409 Main Street
Niantic, CT, 06357
Interactive hands-on exhibits for the entire family. Don’t miss our Long Island Sound Marinelife Tank, Parent Pockets, a self guided tour of the Museum and Kidsville, an entire kid-sized town. Themes include arts and science, health and history. Have fun while learning. Explore the Discovery Room, see live animals and say hello to Richter the Red Tailed Boa Constrictor.
Hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday, noon-4:30 p.m. Hours vary by season; call ahead.
Admission: $7 per person.
Yale Collection of Musical Instruments
15 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT, 06520
More than 800 16th- to 20th-century musical instruments documenting European and American music tradition. Concert series September to April.
Hours: September through July, Tuesday-Friday, 1-4 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Closed during August.
Admission: $2 donation.
Connecticut Trolley Museum
58 North Road (Route 140)
East Windsor, CT, 06088
Three-mile round trip ride on antique trolleys. Tour the Visitor's Center display and stationary trolleys. Gift shop, deli and cafe.
Hours: Charters only from January through March; April to Memorial Day, Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday 1-4 p.m.; Memorial Day to Labor Day, Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, noon-4 p.m.; Sundays in October, Pumpkin Patch rides
Admission: Adults, $8.50; seniors, $7.50; children age 2-12, $5.50.
Imagine Nation Children's Museum
1 Pleasant Street
Bristol, CT, 06010
This science museum for kids age 2 to 10 is packed with fun exhibits that allow children to dig into science projects and experiments of all kinds. Some activities that will fascinate children are the Sandsational Sand Pendulum; the Gravity Well; the Tuning Fork Table; a construction zone; Dolls of the World; and Waterplay. Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
Admission: $4 per person.
Connecticut Audubon Society Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary
314 Unquowa Road
Fairfield, CT, 06824
Historic museum highlights natural history of the state with dioramas, wildlife exhibits, and dinosaur footprints. Adjacent 6-acre sanctuary with trails.
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The six-acre Birdcraft Sanctuary is open daily, year-round, from dawn to dusk.
Institute for American Indian Studies
38 Curtis Rd.(off Route 199)
Washington, CT, 06793
The Institute for American Indian Studies Museum and Research Center features Native American art and artifacts from 10,000 years ago to present day, hiking trails, outdoor gardens, changing exhibits, and a 16th-century Algonkian village. Explore what life was like in Connecticut 1,000 years ago, sit in a dugout canoe, use replicated tools, and see a full wall mural depicting village life. Information: www.iaismuseum.org.
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
Cost: Adults, $10; seniors, $8; children age 3-12, $6
Danbury Railway Museum
120 White Street and Patriot Drive
Danbury, CT, 06810
Check out this historic station building and railway yard, on your own with a brochure, or with a tour guide. The historic splendor of this antique place tells a story of how railways changed America, and features unique artifacts. See full description
of Danbury Railway Museum
Eli Whitney Museum
915 Whitney Avenue
Hamden, CT, 06517
Museum focusing on Eli Whitney's life, his inventions and his legacy. In addition to historic exhibits, the museum also holds a water learning lab and outdoor study areas. The barn, built in 1816, is the site of special events throughout the year.
Hours: HOurs change seasonally; call ahead.
Admission: free; charge for programs.
Lyman Allyn Art Museum
625 Williams Street
New London, CT, 06320
Eighteenth-, 19th- and 20th-century art and decorative arts, American Impressionist paintings, contemporary American art, changing exhibits. Outdoor Children's Art Park.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $10; seniors and students over age 18; $7; children under age 18, $5.
Kidcity Children's Museum
119 Washington Street
Middletown, CT, 06457
Whimsical, one-of-a-kind rooms filled with hands-on play and learning, for kids ages 1 to 8 and their grown-ups.
Hours: Sunday-Tuesday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: $8 per person.
Sloane-Stanley Museum and Kent Furnace
31 Kent Cornwall Road (Route 7)
Kent, CT, 06757
This museum features a collection of woodworking tools, dating from the 17th century. The ruins of the Kent Furnace, in use through the 19th century are also found on the grounds.
Hours: May-October, Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $8; seniors, $6; children age 6 to 17, $5.