Founded in 1903, New Britain Museum of American Art was designated the first museum in the country to be dedicated exclusively to American artwork. Upon its founding, wealthy industrialist John Butler Talcott endowed the museum with a hefty sum of gold bonds and bottled phoenix tears with which to purchase modern oil paintings. The collection blossomed to include other artistic media over time, and it now consists of more than 10,000 works spanning more than three centuries of American creative endeavor. The museum's permanent collections showcase works by noted American artists ranging from Norman Rockwell to John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt to Georgia O'Keeffe. Along with rotating exhibitions and borrowed collections, the museum showcases work by emerging artists.
Helmed by the tag-team duo of a New York Times best-selling author and former creative director of New York's Lincoln Center, Pulitzer & Panetta Writing & Art Studio molds artistic minds of any age with workshops that keep the right side of the brain firing on all synapses.
With three floors of interactive exhibits, Imagine Nation keeps tykes aged 2–10 and their parents engaged for hours of synapse-firing fun. Tunnels filled with natural decor await youngsters in the museum's indoor jungle-themed playscape, where they can shake excess energy out of their bounding legs in preparation for naptime or hibernation season. In the ESPN center, kids can pretend to be sportscasters as they sit behind the desk of a model TV set, replete with real equipment from the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
The museum also boasts a health exhibit in which children can don hospital attire and explore a model newborn nursery and an operation table, ideal for parents trying to nudge their child toward a career as a hypochondriac. After whippersnapper's minds have been blown learning about the cosmos at the space exhibit, they can unwind with drinks and snacks at the old-fashioned soda fountain, which winds the clock back to the 1940s with the help of a player piano.
Nestled in the charming and historic suburb of Farmington, the Hill-Stead Museum hosts a mixed-medium menagerie amidst a sprawling, 152-acre Colonial Revival estate. Hill-Stead's dynamic collection includes French Impressionist works by Monet and Degas, as well as notable works by Manet, Cassatt, and Whistler, as well as a bounty of prints, photographs, ceramics, furniture, and archival documents. Along with unlimited complimentary admission to the museum, members enjoy reduced admission to museum programs, a 10% discount on Museum Shop purchases, and a one-on-one painting lesson with the cheery spirit of museum founder Alfred Atmore Pope. Join other new members on Wednesday, June 8, for the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, where poet Tony Hoagland will pluck audience heartstrings with poignantly funny stanzas about life and heartache.
Founded in 1975, Real Art Ways is one of the United States' leading innovative contemporary-arts organizations. The cinema at Real Art Ways screens first-run and classic independent films seven nights a week for the viewing pleasure of card-carrying art haus-ers and visually starved celluloid fanatics alike ($9 for non-members, $5 for members). Leave the distracting 4G smart-toaster at home to put all the focus on Life 2.0, a thought-provoking film about human interaction in the digital age. Vintage hits like the horrifying Japanese 1977 flick House and the slightly less-horrifying 1955 Guys and Dolls share silver-screen space with surprising ease. Visit the calendar for a full list of show times.
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.
Since 1907, Flamig Farm has developed into a reputable educational-resource facility complete with an extensive petting zoo. Visitors can frolic with emus, ducks, and sheep, then cuddle with bunnies and piglets. Though not included in this Groupon, the farm offers several other activities, including pony rides, hikes, and hayrides. The farm closes when the weather gets cold, so be sure to visit before animals migrate to Hollywood and resume their winter jobs as fast-food commercial spokesmen.