Top Permanent Exhibits In Connecticut

July 15, 2013 8:00 AM

(Photo Credit: Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History Facebook page)

Almost every museum hosts special exhibits that stay for a limited number of weeks or months. At the core, though, are the permanent exhibits that define the museum’s unique character. Here are some of those exhibits which can be found all year, every year at some of Connecticut’s best museums.
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT 06830
(203) 869-0376

The Greenwich museum’s one permanent exhibit is “Changes In Our Land.” Spread out over several rooms, it tells the story of Earth from prehistoric times to the present. You can view samples of the Earth’s minerals and learn how our current landscape was formed over the course of millions of years. Other displays feature artifacts that humans have used in different eras to survive which have also helped shape the planet.

The Wadsworth Atheneum
600 Main St.
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 278-2670

The oldest public art museum in the United States displays an extensive collection of European artwork, particularly Italian Baroque and Surrealist paintings. But its most impressive exhibit may be of American art, of which it has 1,000 paintings and 400 sculptures. The collection spans over 200 years from colonial era portraits by John Singleton Copley to modern works from Georgia O’Keefe and Andrew Wyeth. Especially notable are the numerous classic 19th century Hudson River School paintings depicting landscapes in upstate New York.

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
170 Whitney Ave.
New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 432-5050

“The Discovery Room” is often the most crowded place in New Haven’s natural history museum. That’s because it’s an ideal destination for families. Parents can let their young children loose without worrying because the room’s rule is “Please touch!” The exhibit contains plenty of activities where kids can play with bones, fossils, bark and leaves. Nature lovers of all ages can appreciate the vast assortment of animals, including reptiles from South America and Australia and insects from Africa.

Related:  Connecticut’s Best Museums

Custom House Maritime Museum
150 Bank St.
New London, CT 06320
(860) 447-2501

In 1839, the Amistad case put Connecticut at the center of national attention. Captives from present-day Sierra Leone staged an uprising on the slave ship Amistad, which authorities then hauled into the U.S. Custom House in New London. The slaves awaited trial in New Haven and the U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled in their favor. Today the Custom House also serves as a museum, and history buffs will want to head for the Amistad exhibit. A large room tells the story of the whole affair through artwork, models and original artifacts, documents and letters.

Hill-Stead Museum
35 Mountain Road
Farmington, CT 06032
(860) 677-4787

This art museum was converted from the home of wealthy Connecticut businessman Alfred Atmore Pope. Although it boasts an impressive collection of photographs, sculptures and antique furnishings, the Hill-Stead’s biggest draw is its French Impressionist paintings. Pope took great interest in the movement in 1888 and purchased works from many of the best Impressionist artists over the next 20 years. Works by Claude Monet, Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas highlight Pope’s collection.

Related: Best Art Museums In Hartford

Joshua Palmes is a freelance writer covering all things Connecticut. His work can be found on

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