The New Children’s Museum's hands-on exhibits challenge kids to think creatively and solve problems. They can observe lizards in mock habitats, build Lego towers and put them to the test against simulated earthquakes, follow a timeline of Mars' history, and learn about the Earth's rotation under a Foucault pendulum. The museum also hosts camps and birthday parties, helping to make learning become a celebrated part of life.
Samuel Clemens lived a life so full that it encompassed two names. He was a riverboat pilot, a silver prospector, and a newspaperman—and it was in this last trade that he first used the name under which he would author some of America's greatest fiction: Mark Twain. In works such as Adventures of Tom Sawyer and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court Twain cast a wry spotlight on the political and industrial changes of the 19th century, from westward expansion to the end of slavery to the birth of ground-breaking technology such as the mustache comb. In much the same way, the very space where Twain wrote—the Hartford home where his family lived from 1874 to 1891—illuminates the times as well as the personal life of the man behind the letters.
These days, that home is a National Historic Landmark that serves as half of The Mark Twain House and Museum. Comprised of 25 rooms, including a glass conservatory and grand library, it has been open to the public since its 100th anniversary in 1974. Inside, visitors explore not only the billiard room where Twain penned novels such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but also nearly 16,000 Twain-related artifacts, such as his last pair of spectacles and photos of his daughters putting on plays. Even more objects and information fill the nearby LEED-certified museum, where rotating exhibits focus on subjects such as the Twain family's servants.