Longtime resident of northeastern Connecticut, Carly Martin founded Silver Circle in 2008 with the belief that art is the glue that keeps communities together, granting local artists a space to exhibit their masterworks, hosting classes for aspiring Picassos to hone their craft, and providing a venue for jewelry makers to sell their crafts. The original pieces in Martin's gallery––which have included works by Jean-Paul Jacquet and George Chaplin––rotate on a four- to six-week schedule, and featured exhibits can be viewed in the main hall every Tuesday through Sunday, or through an enchanted mirror on Monday. Rather than having a decorative mindset while choosing the pieces for the gallery, Martin takes a more spontaneous approach, telling the Putnam Villager, “We don't concern ourselves with 'matching'... If a piece of artwork speaks to us, it can change our whole space and add energy and interest in unexpected ways. Art truly breathes life into a home.”
Inside a neo-Romanesque building on the Norwich Free Academy campus, Slater Memorial Museum traces local and world history with an extensive art collection. More than 150 plaster casts of classical and Renaissance sculpture tower above basketry, ceremonial masks, and leatherwork from African artisans, as well as artifacts from Mesopotamia and Persia. Saving space for those from North American shores, the museum also displays work from 19th-century Norwich artists, such as Denison Crocker and John Trumbull, plus pieces from 20th-century Connecticut artists, such as Ozias Dodge and Charlotte Fuller Eastman. The galleries host annual rotating exhibitions and events. Visitors courting their own muse can craft metal art and jewelry at adult art classes, and kid artistes sample a range of disciplines from printmaking and watercolors.
Within a 308,000-square-foot complex run by the government of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation lies the keys to unlock 20,000 years of Native American history. Atop a 185-foot tower made from stone and glass, visitors drink in views of the region before heading back downstairs to visit the exhibits. Life-size, walk-through dioramas and live performances tell stories via interactive means, and two libraries keep archival materials that are perusable by children and adults. In addition to the permanent exhibits, special events take place throughout the year from harvest festivals to beading circles.
The fresh breezes that buffet Mystic's shoreline probably feel much the same as they did 150 years ago, so it's a fitting place to find America's nautical history resurrected. Called Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea, includes 19 acres of exhibition space. In addition to the museum proper, the complex hosts a recreated 19th-century sea-faring village, a working shipyard, and extensive gardens that blanket the grounds. Live museum staff lead demonstrations and performances throughout, even welcoming guests aboard the National Historic Landmark vessels moored in port. On Wednesdays through Mondays, captains take visitors out on the water in a coal-fired steamboat to experience the river and town from a different angle. They also rent out their small boats seasonally, to visitors who can comfortably handle being in charge of a boat. When tired of ship studying and naval gazing, guests can head to the Treworgy Planetarium and turn their eyes to the stars, learning how to chart courses in the manner of ancient captains, modern astronauts, and late-night deliverymen.
At the Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut, kids can build skyscrapers out of giant foam blocks, experience flight with a small zipline, and learn about cultures on other continents in a global village. Apart from the sciences, the exhibits also focus on the arts and health, whereas two outdoor play places make it easy to burn off energy with a climbing wall and tree house. The 5,000-square-foot museum has everything children need to explore, leaving them only limited by the power of their imaginations.
For nearly 85 years, the South County Art Association has fostered the local arts community with exhibitions and classes guided by talented craftspeople. During a 2.5-hour bookmaking class, pupils choose from four different bookbinding styles taught by resident page-master Catherine Flores, making beautiful crane-shaped tomes in an origami day class or taking cues from the envelope-book course to fashion a pocketed book for holding secrets, treasures, or the key to your rock collection's safety-deposit box. An eight-fold accordion-book class leaves students with a handsome, folded mini album that functions like a traditionally bound book, and a non-adhesive book lesson teaches the delicate arts of bookmanship, including pamphlet stitching and the traditional Japanese side stab. Although class times vary, for those that take place from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., patrons are invited to bring along a beverage of their choosing, and enjoy in a warm and convivial atmosphere.