4 Of Western Connecticut’s Wonderful Museums Last Updated: January 2019
We’re excited to welcome a new CT Ambassador, Eric Hahn of the Connecticut Wonderful Facebook group! Eric is a fan of all things Connecticut, and if you follow his adventures, you know he has great finds to share, practically on a daily basis. We asked him to give us his unique take on four popular museums in the Litchfield Hills region of Connecticut!
White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield
If you want to connect with nature for a day, I can think of no better place than the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, Connecticut. This mansion/nature museum, donated by the Alain and May White to the state in 1913, sits in the middle of 4,000 beautiful acres that you can explore. Once you enter the Nature Center, it seems bigger on the inside than you might expect, with room after room of interesting things to see, touch, and learn about. Many vibrant exhibits explain the natural history of the area and the animals that make Litchfield Hills their home. There is even a small pond next door where you might see turtles sunning themselves on a log or a tall grey heron catching fish.
Tapping Reeve House, Litchfield
It’s been said that America is a nation of laws. If you want to visit the birthplace of that idea, there is only one place you can go: the Tapping Reeve House in Litchfield, America's first law school. Founded in 1774, this historic building has been lovingly restored and filled with exhibits about its founders, Tapping Reeve and James Gould. It showcases the ideas and philosophies that taught many of America's most famous and influential lawyers, the people who went on to shape this nation. Your visit will be both riveting and educational and you will get to walk in the footsteps where many Vice Presidents, Congressmen, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, and State Governors got their start. Alumni went on to found 20 more law schools, so the school’s tradition lives on. This museum is geared towards adults and older children who love history. It gives you a touchstone to connect with so many people who went on to make this country great.
Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington
As you drive through Connecticut, (a word derived from the Algonquin “Quinnetukut,” meaning place of the long water), you can't help but notice other names like Nonnewag, Pomperaug, Weekeepeemee, Shepaug, Quassapaug and Winnimaug. These are left over from a time when Native Americans lived across our state. Nestled in the hills of Washington, you can visit the Institute for American Indian Studies and learn so much more about the people who lived here first. You will see lively dioramas depicting Native American life, artifacts thousands of years old, and demonstrations on how to make the crafts. Getting a tour is a must, so you don't miss any of the stories surrounding each object. During my visit I got to try throwing an Atlatl, a spear used for hunting. It was a lot of fun. They always have something going on all year long, so check their website for activities. It makes a good day trip, and you will leave with a greater appreciation for Connecticut's rich Native American heritage.
New England Carousel Museum, Bristol
Sometimes you want to escape the ordinary and see the fantastic … to visit a place where art, and history, and fantasy come together. And there is no better place to do that than the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol. It’s a treasure box filled with an almost uncountable number of beautiful carousel horses and fantastic beasts; some are antique from a vanished time and others are newly made. Peruse this converted factory for hours and marvel at the craftsmanship of these amazing sculptures. Of course, you will want to take the little ones for a ride on the functioning carousel. You can also tour two other free museums, exploring fire history and Greek Culture. This place is the stuff dreams are made of, but I promise you, every time you go you will notice something new!