Connecticut’s Unusual Museums

August 29, 2011 9:00 AM

By Joanne Greco Rochman

What do a Garbage Museum and a Space Museum have in common? They’re found in Connecticut and they’re both hands-on. If you think that all museums are stuffy buildings with paintings and relics for scholars and the elite, then think again. After all, museums got their name from the muses who inspire creativity, imagination, and all kinds of art. Nowhere is that more obvious than at the wildly engaging and entertaining museums in CT. Museums are not only alive and well in Connecticut, but they’re the perfect all-weather, year–round experience.
discovery museum joane greco rochman Connecticut’s Unusual Museums

Photo Credit: Discovery Museum

The Discovery Museum
4450 Park Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-5pm

If you were an astronaut, would you let it go to your head? Well, why not find out by having your photo taken in one of the helmets that Apollo 11 Astronauts wore? Just slip behind the full size replica of the spacesuit worn by those very astronauts and get a photo of yourself dressed for outer space. While you’re at it, you’ll want to catch the show “The Evolution of the Spacesuit!” Now this is one exhibit every child and parent will enjoy. How engaging is it? Climb in and around the Discovery Museum’s  Moonbase, “sit in the lunar rover and drive it around a video moon.” You’ll also be able to play at growing food in the hydroponic garden, use a remote claw and much more.  There’s nothing stuffy about this museum. According to Adam Zuckerman, director of marketing and exhibits, there are many hands-on opportunities at the museum, as well as shows at the planetarium. Bridgeport’s The Discovery museum is not only cutting edge, it’s way, way out there. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday Noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $9.50 for adults, and $8 for seniors, students and children.

garbage museum credit joanne greco rochman Connecticut’s Unusual Museums

Photo Credit: Joanne Greco Rochman

The CRRA Garbage Museum
1410 Honeyspot Road Extension
Stratford, CT 06615
Hours: Tues-Fri 10am-4pm

If you did a double take when you saw the word “garbage” juxtaposed next to museum, you were not hallucinating. Here is a (excuse the pun) buried treasure of sorts that starts with what we all know as “garbage.” However, from the moment you enter this phenomenal museum and meet trashosaurus, a huge creature that resembles a dinosaur, but is made up of trash, you know you’re in for a rare experience.  With a staff made up of educators and environmentalists, you will see how that garbage  turns into valuable substances with a lot of help from the lowly, underground earthworm. It’s as colorful and fanciful as it is educational. Watch the big trucks deliver recyclables, then watch the sorters, and amazing art work created from garbage and trash.  A perfect place for school field trips, the museum is open Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Admission is $3 per person.

mattatuckmuseum Connecticut’s Unusual Museums

Photo Credit: Mattatuck Museum

The Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main Street
Waterbury, CT 06702
(203) 753-0381
Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-5pm

Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole sang “it’s only a paper moon,” but the Mattatuck Museum has a lot more than paper moons in their upcoming exhibition. According to publicist Stephanie Harris, the museum will feature paper dresses worn by real live models and displayed on mannequins as well. These are  not just any paper dresses; these are  haute couture, designer originals. But don’t think for a moment that this is a “female” thing. Oh, no. These paper dresses are going to be shown off right next to some really hot custom designed, never seen before motor cycles.  This one day event happens on Oct. 1. Don’t fret if you miss it. There’s plenty of other good stuff on exhibit including Waterbury in the Civil War: Letters from the Front, which follows the lives of four Waterbury soldiers throughout the Civil War. Admission to most exhibits is $5.

brucemuseum Connecticut’s Unusual Museums

Photo Credit: Bruce Museum website

The Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT 06830
(203) 869-6786
Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1pm-5pm

If ever there was a museum that was the best kept secret of museums, it is the Bruce Museum in Greenwich.  Now here’s a state of the art museum with a lineup that includes sculpture from the Congo; Picasso’s Vollard Suite: The Sculptor’s Studio; Horsing Around at the Bruce Museum and drawings by Rembrandt, his students, and circle. Hold on, before you think this is only about truly great artists, there’s a natural science wing that will enthrall visitors of all ages. Admission is $7 for adults.

yaleuniversitygallery Connecticut’s Unusual Museums

Photo Credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Yale University Art Gallery
1111 Chapel Street (at York Street)
New Haven, CT 06520
(203) 432-0600
Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1-6pm, Mon closed

An absolutely premiere world-class museum, Yale University Art Gallery does feature the work of the masters, but it also has something for everyone. Its permanent collection features works from all over the world including American, Asian, African, European, Ancient, and Modern art.  With lectures and events for children as well as adults, Yale University Art Gallery is one of Connecticut’s gems.  The gallery is free and open to the public. The website has games for children on the site that will inspire a visit to the museum.

Joanne Greco Rochman is the arts editor of “The Fairfield County Review,” a columnist, critic, feature story writer and English professor. Her work  appears regularly in “The Republican-American” and Hersam-Acorn Publications.