Don't Miss These 6 New England Museums
Mark Twain House & Museum.
Although a son of Missouri, Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) made his home in Hartford’s beautiful West End. The 90-minute tour of his Louis Tiffany-designed house will introduce visitors to Twain as a loving father, a hapless businessman, and a consummate jokester (he named his cats Famine, Pestilence, Satan, Sin, Sour Mash, and Flood). You’ll also feel guilty for not having read more of his books. Don’t worry, though — they’re all available in the gift shop. Mon.-Sat. 9:30-5:30, Sun. noon-5:30; closed Tues. Jan.-Mar.; $13, seniors $11, ages 6-16 $8, under 6 free.
351 Farmington Ave., Hartford
Abbe Museum. Duck out of the tourist throng and into the serenity of the Abbe Museum, across from Bar Harbor’s village green. Robert Abbe, M.D., a summer resident, was a collector of Native American art and artifacts. He established his museum in 1926 but died a few months before it opened in 1928. Now with a growing collection of 50,000 ethnographic and archaeological objects, the Abbe is celebrating its 80th anniversary this summer with a traveling exhibition titled “By Native Hands: Woven Treasures from the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art,” featuring 64 historic baskets from 40 North American tribes. Two locations open daily in Bar Harbor until fall. Downtown 10-6 at 26 Mount Desert St., and Sieur de Monts Spring in Acadia National Park 9-4. $6, children 6-15 $2, Free to Native Americans.
26 Mt. Desert St., Bar Harbor
Lawrence Heritage State Park. In the Bay State, renovated mill buildings have become as ubiquitous as Red Sox caps. Now malls, museums, and art studios, today’s trendy buildings were once the dark, dangerous core of the commonwealth’s economy. In old workers’ barracks in the shadow of high-end loft housing, Lawrence Heritage State Park is a relic of that time. Putting a human face on the high age of industrialism, the museum preserves the story of the everyday immigrants who built a better future on the dirty streets of the canal towns. Daily 9-4; free.
1 Jackson St., Lawrence
American Independence Museum. Although no revolutionary blood was shed on its soil, the Granite State was no mere spectator to the birth of our country. (For information on the December 1774 raid on New Castle’s Fort William and Mary, for instance, visit nhstateparks.org.) This museum, housed in Exeter’s Ladd-Gilman House (home of New Hampshire’s first political family), chronicles the considerable contributions of the state’s founding fathers. On display are military ephemera, furniture, and an impressive collection of documents, including an original broadside of the Declaration of Independence and two drafts of the Constitution (exhibited only in July). Mid-May to Oct. 25 Wed.-Sat. 10-4; $5, students $3, under 6 free.
1 Governors Lane, Exeter
John Brown House/Benefit Street. For a short stretch of road, Benefit Street has defined much of the story and identity of Providence. Explore it with the Rhode Island Historical Society on a pair of tours starting from the John Brown House. One covers the mansion itself, enlightening guests about one of Providence’s most influential (and controversial) citizens. The other is a 90-minute jaunt to the other famous homes and civic structures lining this idyllic street. Mansion tours: Apr.-Dec. Tues.-Fri. 1:30 and 3, Sat. 10:30, noon, 1:30, and 3; $8, students and seniors $6, ages 7-17 $4. Street tours: June 15-Oct. 15 Tues.-Sat. 11; $12, seniors $10, ages 12 and under $6.
52 Power St., Providence
Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium.
The Fairbanks has remained largely unchanged since the late 1800s. This hall of curiosities holds a mummified cat, a painting composed entirely of bugs, and more mounted animals than you can count. If not the largest collection of Victorian-era taxidermy in New England, it’s certainly the most cramped. Bears, sharks, and the obligatory moose stand shoulder to shoulder, towering over the museum’s younger visitors. Your children will be either captivated or terrified, but we guarantee they won’t be bored. Mon.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 1-5; closed Mon. mid-Oct. to mid-Apr.; $6, seniors and ages 5-17 $5, under 5 free. Call or visit Web site for planetarium schedule; $5.
1302 Main St., St. Johnsbury