Is there a museum that is within close proximity to your home or perhaps that you drive by every day and you've never made the time to stop in? For 5 years I drove by the Sloane Stanley Museum and the CT Antique Machinery Association and for some reason never got around to taking the kids there. Well, this summer I was determined to finally visit these charming museums that are situated right next to each other off of Route 7 in Kent, Litchfield County.
The first visit was to the Sloane Stanley Museum. Eric Sloane was a prolific artist and author who happened to also collect antique hand tools. His collection of old tools is nicely displayed in the museum as well as a re-creation of his artist studio the way they found it the day he died. It's really well done. I just wanted to sit on the bench and look at everything for hours. The kids enjoyed looking at his amazing art work on the walls. Right next to the museum stands a pioneer cabin that Sloane built himself. It's based on a book he wrote, "Diary of An Early American Boy, an 1805 diary".
Behind the museum are the remains of a granite blast furnace used to make pig iron back when Kent, Ct was an iron making, tree cleared, smoke filled land. The boys particularly enjoyed seeing this old furnace with its gothic arches.
Sloane Stanley Museum
May 4 - June 1, 2012: Friday - Sunday, 10:00 - 4:00
June 2 - October 28, 2012: Thursday - Sunday, 10:00 - 4:00
$6 seniors (60 years +) & college students
$5 children (6-17)
Free children 5 and under
Once we saw everything there was to see at the Sloane Stanley Museum we walked through a grassy trail over to CAMA, the CT Antique Machinery Association. This place is run by volunteers who are passionate about preserving historic machines, tools, buildings and trains. It's really quite amazing the collections they have. First stop was to an old caboose that had been lovingly restored and open to all. The boys climbed up into the top bunks and hung out for a bit. We saw some of the old steam engines they have on the property and then walked on over to the old school house.
The Cornwall Cream Hill Agricultural School was removed from its original location and rebuilt by volunteers on the CAMA land. They then decorated it they way it would have been back in the 1850's. This was an all boys boarding school and one of the first dedicated to agricultural sciences. Most of the boys went on to Yale University. We had the school to ourselves and the boys made themselves at home, imagining themselves sitting in the classroom like others did 150 years ago.
From there we moved on to the tractor barn. Tractor lovers alert! This place has every imaginable tractor from the last century. A real treat to the eyes.
After we interrogated all of the tractors I was ready to move on to the blacksmith. That part was closed but I could see how fun it would be to come back when a blacksmith was in there working.
Right past the blacksmith was the Connecticut Museum of Mining and Mineral Science. A geologist's dream. Every type of mineral and rock were on display as well as a section about the mining industry. They also have a brick section with old bricks stamped with the company that made them way back when. The boys especially enjoyed the glow in the dark minerals that were in a black out room.
What a refreshing surprise! I regret not having visited these places each year for the 5 years prior. So happy to have found these terrific local museums that are preserving some of Litchfield County's past. All in all, it was a fun and educational day trip! Note that these museums are both closed November through May. CAMA is having a fall festival September 26th - 28th, 2012. I am sure you won't be disappointed if you have time to go!
10 AM to 4 PM.
Wednesday through Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday)
May through the end of October.
Admission fee is by donation during normal hours of operation (special event fees may be different). A small admission donation helps to offset the considerable cost of maintaining and powering our museum.
Originally published 9/22/12.