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.
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.
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.
No one knows exactly where he came from—perhaps a sailor taking shore leave, or maybe a wayfarer exploring the colonies—but locals think they know what he's waiting for. In the 1720s, two travelers checked into The White Horse Tavern—still functioning today since 1673. One murdered the other, fleeing into the night, never to be heard from again. Ever since, visitors have seen the ghost of the slain traveler, saying that he appears to be waiting the day for his companion returns and he may take his revenge.
This is just one of the tales shared by the guides of Ghost Tours of Newport. Cloaked in flowing black dresses, billowy capes, and top hats, they lead each tour by lantern light through Newport's historic colonial district, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the United States with buildings dating back to the late 1600s. Leading guests down easily overlooked alleyways still defaced by H.P. Lovecraft's tagging phase, the guides arrive at haunted locations, such as a wrought-iron-gated colonial cemetery neighboring a church constructed in 1726. The stories behind some sightings and locations even intersect with historical figures, such as George Washington and Lizzy Borden. Guides encourage picture taking and receive submissions each week of possible spectral figures caught during a tour, which they post to Ghost Tours of Newport's Facebook albums. These images range from the impression of faces in windows to orbs, believed to represent a spirit with a fondness for bowling.