Stamford Museum & Nature Center has come a long way since its founding in 1936. Over the decades, its sprawling grounds have grown to include areas focused on nature, agriculture, astronomy, art, and history. On a hill lies the Henri Bendel Mansion. This once-private residence echoes classic British manor houses with its lead-framed glass windows, half-timbered walls, and stone gargoyles that speak in cockney accents. Visitors can view the ground's sculptures before going inside to gaze at the museum galleries and rotating exhibitions, which explore topics in art and pop culture.
Back outside, more than 80 acres of nature trails wind through the trees. One such trail leads to Nature's Playground, where kids soar down slides and play in a treehouse. Elsewhere, the accessible Wheels in the Woods trail lets people of all abilities explore the forest.
Crossing over Bendel's Pond brings visitors to Heckscher Farm, where kids learn basic animal care. The New England–style farm, which stands next to an otter pond, home to otters Bert and Edie, encompasses structures such as the Cheshire Barn, which was built in 1750 and houses heritage-breed animals, including chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, cows, and llamas. The Stamford Observatory sits west of the farm and offers visitors an opportunity to peer into a 22-inch research telescope (on Friday evenings, weather permitting), to view the night sky.
Home to more than 1,000 marine animals, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk entices visitors of all ages with glimpses of the Long Island Sound’s rich ecosystem. Pintsize adventurers thrill at the touch tank, which puts friendly rays and other inhabitants of the Sound at arm's reach. Sharks swiftly navigate a glass-enclosed exhibit, giving visitors an up-close view of the powerful creatures without having to disguise themselves as bigger sharks. The friendly staff members feed seven harbor seals three times a day, inviting landlubbers to watch and ask questions as the whiskered inhabitants chow down. A six-story screen displays larger-than-life images in the IMAX theater, as educational tales of seafaring critters and jungle dwellers inspire folk ballads about the family cat. The behind-the-scenes tour steers visitors through the jellyfish nursery and fish kitchen before piloting toward the Open Ocean exhibit, where participants can toss in fish to feed the sharks, and then after-dinner mints to curb the indecorous effects.
Stepping Stones Museum for Children encourages kids to learn through play with permanent and traveling exhibits tailored to different age levels and activities designed to develop growing brains. The newly renovated 22,000-square-foot space—which boasts five main galleries with more than 100 hands-on activities—was founded in 2000 to expand children's minds through an interdisciplinary mix of subjects, including art, culture, literacy, and string theory. Because kids learn best by doing, the museum's interactive exhibits are perfect for improving cognitive function. Tykes 0–36 months explore the multidimensional Tot Town, and the futuristic Energy Lab powered by wind, water, and sun keeps older kids conducting experiments amid an array of vibrant colors and textures. Outside, the museum's gigantic open-air tent known as Celebration Courtyard hosts an oversized checkerboard and big foam building blocks. A community garden teaches little ones about butterflies and edible plants, and Healthyville employs computer games to educate kids about nutrition, the body, and why you shouldn't eat fake fruit.
Westport Picture Framing's meticulous frame experts specialize in safeguarding art, photos, and prints and can frame almost any item or size to fit personal tastes and special occasions. With an impressive selection of high-quality materials to choose from, customers can match their boutique artwork or prized Calvin Coolidge trading card with the surrounding décor of the frame's impending wall space. Skilled artisans can also mount and display glass sculptures, lithographs, and serigraphs. Acid-free products and museum-quality, UV-free glass help to ensure the longevity and preservation of framed photos, keepsakes, and important receipts.
Washington Square Art Gallery's precision framers preserve diplomas, sports memorabilia, and prints with custom frames, acid-free backing boards, and UV-protective and plexiglas that prevents keepsakes from fading. Specializing in custom framing, picture professionals craft plastic, wood, metal, and stone squares that average around $200 a project, depending on size, materials, and framed objects' ticklishness. Replace novelty kitten posters with a diploma framed in wood ($150–$225), and including a double matte, dry mounting and plexiglas. In addition to fencing in renegade memories, Washington Square Art Gallery will happily restore wilted photographs to their former glory. The helpful staff also delivers and hangs wall decorations at no additional cost, and on-site parking provides visitors with a safe place to leave their car or saddled ostrich.
Rockwell Art and Framing has been involved in the community since 1987. In 2002, Stephen Rockwell Desloge acquired multiple art galleries and framing stores, consolidating them into one entity at multiple locations.
Among the paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media works of art displayed at each gallery, professional staffers perform a variety of services, such as custom framing and restoration. They're also happy to provide in-home consultations, picture hanging, personalized portraits, art appraisal, or custom commissions. Three Rockwell shops are home to galleries that display rotating exhibits from featured artists. These exhibits range from paintings and photography to museum-quality documents and artifacts, such as an 1842 edition of the Declaration of Independence. Rockwell Art and Framing also actively supports the local community and beyond. Among other things, the shop has collected hundreds of donated art for a charity sale that raised over $25,000 for Save the Children, an organization that has helped thousands of families recover after the earthquake in Haiti.