Museums and Galleries in the Litchfield Hills Last Updated: August 2023
History, culture, technology, art – they’re all on display within the fabulous museums and art galleries throughout the Litchfield Hills. Every member of the family can explore, learn, and share diverse experiences and the many fascinating aspects that embody our rich and diverse culture – for a few quiet hours, or over a peaceful weekend.
New England Carousel Museum, Bristol
Dedicated to the acquisition, restoration, and preservation of operating carousels and carousel memorabilia and the creation of new carousel material, the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol offers visitors the opportunity to learn about art, history, and fabrication of this unique and little-known form of American sculpture, showcasing a spectacular collection of over 200 antique wooden horses and other objects. In their restoration department, you can see artists and craftsmen actively working to preserve these American treasures. In addition to the Carousel Museum, visitors will also enjoy the Museum of Fire History, the Museum of Greek Culture, the Glo Sessions Art Gallery, a changing Fine Art Gallery, and a ride on a working carousel. Public and private tours, memorable events and magical birthday parties are available.
American Clock & Watch Museum, Bristol
See what makes them tick at the American Clock & Watch Museum in Bristol, one of the few in the country dedicated solely to horology – the history, science and art of timekeeping and timekeepers. Did you know that Connecticut played a major role in revolutionizing the clock and watch industries in America? Learn about the innovative geniuses who made this happen at one the largest collections of American-made timepieces in the world. Exhibits include sundials and shelf clocks, chronometers, character watches, and everything in between. Enjoy the ticking and chiming as you stroll through the museum’s eight galleries on a self-guided tour; visit the gift shop for a variety of time-related products, including Tick Tock Tonic soda. Check their website for upcoming programs – a great TIME is guaranteed for all!
Washington Art Association & Gallery, Washington
The Washington Art Association & Gallery was established in 1952 by a group of local artists seeking ways to nurture creative life in and around Litchfield County. The high caliber of exhibitions for which the Association is known was established early on, with celebrated artists such as Alexander Calder, Andre Masson and Yves Tanguy participating in early shows. Since its founding, the WAA has conducted more than 450 exhibitions, which have showcased the work of both emerging and established artists from all over the world. In addition to the exhibitions, they offer studio courses, workshops, lectures, and a wide array of special arts-related events designed to encourage people of all ages to develop their skills and explore new artistic directions.
Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington
The Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington strives to educate visitors with engaging exhibits, interactive and informative programs, and a space for reflection and learning. Respect for the Earth and for all living things is central to Native American consciousness; and this is reflected throughout the museum, located on 15 serene woodland acres. Inside, museum exhibits take visitors on a journey through time, displaying artifacts and presenting information on prehistoric to contemporary Native American culture. Outside, there are Three Sisters and Healing Plants Gardens, and a replicated 16th century Algonkian Village. Take one of the self-guided trails to explore the seasonal world of Woodland Indian peoples, ending the adventure in our village. And for an incredible, award-winning escape room experience, don’t miss the Wigwam Escape!
American Museum of Tort Law, Winsted
What do we really know about the law and how it works, beyond the overly dramatized shows we see on TV? The American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted fills those gaps in a fun (yes!), fascinating and informative way. Created to educate and inspire American citizens about tort law, the law of wrongful injuries, and trial by jury (the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – one of the most important guarantees in the Bill of Rights), exhibits incorporate an engaging blend of cartoon illustrations, artifacts, and short text blocks to inform visitors about important legal precedents and wrongful injury cases which have resulted in better health and safety for all citizens. Subjects include asbestos, tobacco, faulty motor vehicles, and defective workplace equipment, among others. A visit to the museum will increase your appreciation of trial by jury and the benefits of tort law – no objections!
American Mural Project, Winsted
Home of the largest indoor collaborative artwork in the world (120 feet long and five stories high), the American Mural Project in Winsted is a colorful and powerful tribute to American workers that highlights what has defined the country over the last century. A celebration of American ingenuity, productivity, and commitment to work, the mural serves as the centerpiece for its education programs, and seeks to inspire, to educate, to invite collaboration, and to reveal to people of all ages the many contributions they can make to American culture.
KidsPlay Children's Museum, Torrington
Founded in 2012, KidsPlay Children's Museum has grown into an anchor institution attracting families from across Northwest Connecticut to downtown Torrington. Designed to spark curiosity and promote developmental skills like role-playing, sharing, communicating and self-control, it’s place where children (ages 1-10) and families across the socio-economic and educational spectrum can learn while sharing fun-filled, hands-on, and multi-sensory activities with exciting science, arts and literacy exhibits and programs.
Eric Sloane Museum, Kent
The fascinating Eric Sloane Museum in Kent pays tribute to a man of great energy and many talents. Sloane (1905-1985) was a prolific artist, author, and illustrator of over 38 books, as well as an avid collector of Americana. The museum houses a collection of early American tools designed by the artist to tell a story highlighting the spirit, people, and stories of early America. The galleries offer something new to see with rotating exhibits, displaying original works of art by Sloane encompassing his vast portfolio including spectacular cloudscapes, stunning pen and inks, and bucolic rural New England scenes. Visitors can better understand the life and career of the artist by exploring his recreated studio.
Sharon Historical Society & Museum, Sharon
The Gay-Hoyt House has been the home of the Sharon Historical Society & Museum since 1951 and features galleries of historical and contemporary exhibitions ranging from American furniture from colonial to colonial revival, decorative arts, iron industry-related artifacts, portraits by folk artist Ammi Phillips, archives of historical texts and photography, including the works of Frances Kelsey and George Marckres documenting Sharon’s history and more.