Visiting the Museum

Hours

The Museum is open 6 days/ week, except during State Holidays
Monday-Friday: 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Remember: Museum entry is always free!

Holiday Schedule

Directions

The Museum of Connecticut History is housed in the Supreme Court and Connecticut State Library building, located at 231 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06106.

Map and Directions

Directions to 231 Capitol Ave.
From Interstate 84 Eastbound – take Exit 48, Capitol Ave. The Library is diagonally across Capitol Ave. at the end of the exit ramp.

From Interstate 84 Westbound – take Exit 47, Sigourney St. Turn Left under Interstate 84; Left again back onto Interstate 84 eastbound. Take Exit 48, Capitol Ave. The Library is diagonally across Capitol Ave. at the end of the exit ramp.

From Interstate 91 North or Southbound – take Exit 29A, Capitol Area. At the traffic circle, take Elm Street (Bushnell Park will be on your right). At the traffic light, turn Left onto Trinity Street. At the next light, the Library is diagonally across Capitol Ave, directly across from the State Capitol.

Parking

  • On Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., free parking is available for patrons in the State Library/Supreme Court lot adjacent to the building. Enter from Oak Street; the gate will be up. At other times, patrons can park in the following locations.
  • Metered on-street parking is available on Oak, Russ, Lafayette (one-way street from Capitol Ave.), and Buckingham streets. The library staff does not make change for use in parking meters, so patrons should come with a supply of quarters.
  • All-day free parking on Hungerford Street, (one-way street from Capitol Ave.) one block west of, and parallel to, Oak Street. Early arrivals may find spaces in the Capitol Place parking garage at 21 Oak St. A parking lot at Buckingham and Hudson Streets offers reasonable all-day rates.
  • Call the State Library/Supreme Court Security Office (860) 757-2299 for information on Handicapped parking and access to the building.

Please note, on Saturdays entrance to the Museum between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. is via the Capitol Avenue (front) or Russ Street (rear) entrance. From 2:00-3:00 entrance is via the Russ Street (rear) entrance only.

Contact Us

Museum of Connecticut History
860-757-6535
Fax: 860-757-6521

Museum Administrator:
Dean Nelson – dean.nelson@ct.gov
860-757-6534
Collections Curator:
Dave Corrigan – dave.corrigan@ct.gov
860-757-6531
Education Curator:
Patrick Smith – patrick.smith@ct.gov
860-757-6693

Visiting Us:
Are you a teacher scheduling a field trip? See: Scheduling a Group Visit and Guidelines for Visiting the Museum.

Education Department

The Museum of Connecticut History invites teachers and students of all ages to discover the political, industrial and military history of our state. Each year 20,000 children visit our exhibits to learn about the role Connecticut has played in the development of our nation from the colonial era to the present.

 

Scheduling Group Visits to the Museum

The Museum of Connecticut History is open to the public Monday -Friday 9am-4pm and Saturdays 9am-2pm. The museum is closed Sundays and State holidays. Admission is free.

Groups often combine a tour of the State Capitol with a visit to the Museum of Connecticut History. To arrange this please contact the League of Women Voters at the State Capitol at 860-240-0222 or at their website at http:/www.cga.ct.gov/capitoltours/tourinfo.htm

If your group would ONLY like to visit the Museum of Connecticut History please contact Patrick Smith, Education Curator at 860-757-6693 or patrick.smith@ct.gov for further information.Currently, visits to the museum are self-guided; if available a museum staff member will greet your group and provide a brief orientation to the museum. View our “Guidelines for Group Visits” page. To make your visit more enjoyable, see also: Museum Highlights and Museum Fun Facts.

Hands on History in Your Classroom!

The museum now offers two outreach education programs that are presented in your classroom. Connecticut Invents! and A Connecticut Sampler both bring stories of Connecticut’s history to life through hands on activities and exploration. Learn more by reading the program descriptions below.

Connecticut Invents! focuses on famous and not so famous Connecticut inventors and their inventions. The program is best suited for students in the upper elementary and middle school grades and has been designed to meet a number of State of Connecticut Department of Education standards in history and technology education. Students will discover the many inventors and inventions that have come from Connecticut and will also get a chance to become inventors themselves with hands on activities. The program is 60 minutes in length and can be presented up to four times during one school visit. Maximum participation is 25 students per program.

A Connecticut Sampler is an exploration of Connecticut’s political, military and industrial history using objects, role play and hands on activities. Students will relive the legend of the Charter Oak, discover some famous Connecticut inventors and inventions, and learn about the role Connecticut soldiers have played in the defense of our nation from the American Revolution to the present. We’ll also have some fun with Connecticut’s nicknames, state symbols and your local history. Overall it is a great introduction or summary of 300+ years of Connecticut history. This program is best suited for students in third grade and above. The program is 60 minutes in length and can be presented up to four times during one school visit. Maximum participation is 25 students per program.

In order to enhance these programs and offset the expense of materials, we suggest you make a donation of $25.00 per program presentation to the Connecticut Heritage Foundation. Dates and times are limited but we will do our best to work with your schedule.

To learn more about Connecticut Invents! or A Connecticut Sampler  please call Patrick Smith, Education Curator at 860-757-6693 or email patrick.smith@ct.gov

Group Visits to the Museum

The Museum of Connecticut History is open to the public Monday -Friday 9am-4pm and Saturdays 9am-2pm. The museum is closed Sundays and State holidays. Admission is free.

Groups often combine a tour of the State Capitol with a visit to the Museum of Connecticut History. To arrange this please contact the League of Women Voters at the State Capitol at 860-240-0222 or at their website at http:/www.cga.ct.gov/capitoltours/tourinfo.htm

If your group would ONLY like to visit the Museum of Connecticut History please contact Patrick Smith, Education Curator at 860-757-6693 or patrick.smith@ct.gov for further information.Currently, visits to the museum are self-guided; if available a museum staff member will greet your group and provide a brief orientation to the museum. View our “Guidelines for Group Visits” page. To make your visit more enjoyable, see also: Museum Highlights and Museum Fun Facts.

Hands on History in Your Classroom!

The museum now offers two outreach education programs that are presented in your classroom. Connecticut Invents! and A Connecticut Sampler both bring stories of Connecticut’s history to life through hands on activities and exploration. Learn more by reading the program descriptions below.

Connecticut Invents! focuses on famous and not so famous Connecticut inventors and their inventions. The program is best suited for students in the upper elementary and middle school grades and has been designed to meet a number of State of Connecticut Department of Education standards in history and technology education. Students will discover the many inventors and inventions that have come from Connecticut and will also get a chance to become inventors themselves with hands on activities. The program is 60 minutes in length and can be presented up to four times during one school visit. Maximum participation is 25 students per program.

A Connecticut Sampler is an exploration of Connecticut’s political, military and industrial history using objects, role play and hands on activities. Students will relive the legend of the Charter Oak, discover some famous Connecticut inventors and inventions, and learn about the role Connecticut soldiers have played in the defense of our nation from the American Revolution to the present. We’ll also have some fun with Connecticut’s nicknames, state symbols and your local history. Overall it is a great introduction or summary of 300+ years of Connecticut history. This program is best suited for students in third grade and above. The program is 60 minutes in length and can be presented up to four times during one school visit. Maximum participation is 25 students per program.

In order to enhance these programs and offset the expense of materials, we suggest you make a donation of $25.00 per program presentation to the Connecticut Heritage Foundation. Dates and times are limited but we will do our best to work with your schedule.

Guidelines for Visiting the Museum

A visit to the Museum of Connecticut History lets students discover the events, personalities and objects that have helped shape our state, local and national history. The following Teacher Tips will help make your visit more enjoyable for both you and your students.

  • Before you arrive at the museum remember that no backpacks will be allowed in the building unless they contain emergency medical supplies. 
  • When you arrive at the museum please have the group remain outside while your group leader notifies building security of your arrival. All members of your group will be required to pass through a metal detector before entering the building. (remember, we share our space with the Supreme Court) A Supreme Court police officer will give you instructions regarding the procedures for passing through the metal detector. Please make sure that all members of your party pay attention to the officers instructions.
  • When you enter the building please remember that this is a Library and Court area and staff members expect a quiet environment to do their work. Voices and squeaky shoes carry very easily so remind your students of this in respect of those working here.
  • In the Museum pictures are allowed and encouraged. Food, drink, gum are not! Pests that snack on these might also snack on our collections so the best way to keep them out is to keep food out. Also cell phones and beepers are not allowed unless they are on silent mode. Finally, to keep the museum and visitors safe no running or horseplay is allowed.
  • A museum staff member, if available, will greet your group in the museum and provide a brief orientation for your group. Currently no guided tours are available.
  • The museum is handicapped accessible. Please contact Patrick Smith at 860-757-6693 with any questions regarding this.

Exhibits

At the Museum of Connecticut History, you’ll find permanent and changing exhibits that trace the growth of our state and its role in the development of the nation. We focus on Connecticut’s government, military, and industrial history. Below, you’ll find a brief overview of our exhibits.

Portraits of Connecticut Governors:

Lining the walls of Memorial Hall are the portraits of 72 Governors of Connecticut. Included are portraits of Connecticut’s first Governor, John Haynes; Revolutionary War Governor Jonathan Trumbull; Connecticut’s Civil War Governor William Buckingham; and Connecticut’s first woman Governor Ella Grasso. The most recent addition to the collection is the portrait of Governor John Rowland (1995-2004).

Mitchelson Coin Collection:

Among the best collection of American coins in the world, the Joseph C. Mitchelson coin collection includes choice examples of every minted coin in the U.S., including patterns and trial pieces. The sampling of American coins on display spans the period from the 17th-century to the present. Included are such rarities as Connecticut’s 18th-century Higley copper token and the ultra high relief 1907 $20 Gold Double Eagle.

Freedom Trail Quilts:

Freedom Trail Quilts

The Freedom Trail Quilt project and the display of the quilts in the Connecticut State Library’s Museum of Connecticut History represent an acknowledgement by public and private groups of the great significance of the Freedom Trail story within the history of Connecticut and the nation.

Liberties & Legends:

Charter Display

The legend of the Charter Oak plays a significant role in the history of Connecticut’s Constitutional government. In 1662, a “Royal Charter” was granted by the English King Charles II to the colonists of Connecticut which gave them rights which were unique to the newly founded colony.

Twenty-five years later, James II ordered his agents to seize the Charter. Spirited colonists hid the document in a majestic oak on the Wylls estate in Hartford. The tree came to be known as the “Charter Oak” and was a landmark of Connecticut until it toppled in a storm in 1856. The exhibit “Liberties and Legends” tells the story of this venerated icon on Connecticut history.

Connecticut Collections:

Connecticut’s government, military, and industrial history are highlighted in this sampler exhibit of the museum’s collections. Objects related to the early governance of the state include Connecticut’s original manuscripts of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, as well as, political signs, buttons, women’s suffrage banners and a voting booth from the early 20th-century.

Connecticut’s military history is portrayed with flags weapons and memorabilia relating to the state’s contribution to American war efforts from the colonial wars to Operation Desert Storm.

Connecticut's industrial history displayed at the Museum

Connecticut’s vital role in American industry and manufacturing is a major focus of the museum’s collections. Visitors will see Connecticut-made products ranging from canteens to carbines, stoneware to steam irons, teapots to typewriters, and just about everything else in between.

Colt Firearms Collection:

Colt Firearms Collection

Throughout the history of American firearms development, no name is more recognizable than that of Samuel Colt (1814-1862). Colt’s genius in both inventing and marketing helped make Connecticut a major center of firearms manufacturing throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Colt collection was given to the Museum in 1957 and is considered one of the finest assemblages of Colt-made weapons in the world.

Museum Highlights

A museum staff member, if available, will greet your group in the museum and provide a short orientation for your group. Currently no guided tours are available.

In the museum, the first room you will enter will be Memorial Hall. This grand and visually beautiful room holds the Governors Portraits Collection, the Connecticut Freedom Trail Quilt, the Mitchelson Coin Collection and documents including Connecticut’s Royal Charter of 1662.

Currently there are 71 portraits of former Governors on display including such Connecticut notables as Jonathan Trumbull, Roger Sherman Baldwin, Morgan Bulkeley, Ella Grasso and John Rowland. The only non-Governor who’s portrait is on exhibit is that of King Charles II. (He gave the colony of Connecticut the Royal Charter in 1662). Encourage students to note the many differences in the paintings including clothing, background and posture of the Governors.

Students wishing to learn more about the lore and legend of the Charter and Charter Oak can do so in the exhibit Liberties and Legends which is also in Memorial Hall.  The Royal Charter of 1662, perhaps our state’s most famous document, is located at the far end of Memorial Hall. To view and print a transcribed copy of the Charter visithttp://www.sots.ct.gov/registermanual/sectionI/firstconst.htm

The Mitchelson Coin Collection is one of the best collections of American coins in the world. The collection includes examples of every coin minted in the United States. The sampling of coins on display spans the period from the 17th century to the present.

Leaving Memorial Hall, your group can visit either the Connecticut Collections exhibit or the Colt Firearms Collection exhibit. The Connecticut Collections exhibit is a sampling of the museums vast holdings of Connecticut related political, industrial and military objects. Here you will find the state’s official copies of the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution and Articles of Confederation in the political area. Industrial objects include a sampling of the many thousands of products manufactured in Connecticut, from clocks to typewriters and lots of others in between. Military items feature flags, portraits, weapons and memorabilia from the colonial wars to the present.

The Colt Collection is one of the finest assemblages of Colt prototype and experimental firearms in the world. The exhibit includes revolving pistols, Gatling guns, shotguns, automatic weapons and more. Also featured are original patent drawing and marketing materials which made Hartford based Colt the leading firearms company in the world.

Scavenger Hunt at the Museum

[easy2mapimg id=1]