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Connecticut River Museum, Essex

4.5
#3 of 10 in Things to do in Essex
Pier / Boardwalk · Day Trip
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The Connecticut River Museum is a U.S. educational and cultural institution based at Steamboat Dock in Essex, Connecticut that focuses on the marine environment and maritime heritage of the Connecticut River Valley.
The three-story Connecticut River Museum is located in a restored 1878 steamboat warehouse, which is now the only one of its type remaining on the river, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum opened to the public in 1975, with Connecticut Governor Ella Grasso as its first paid member and ex officio patron. The core of its collection came from the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, which provided the museum with a loan of nautical artwork, navigation equipment and maritime-related artifacts.

The museum's main and third levels offer changing exhibits, while its second level is home to a permanent exhibition on shipbuilding, which includes historical maps and models of steamboats and exhibits on the piscine species in the Connecticut River.
The museum's collection also includes a full-scale replica of Turtle, the first American submarine, which was constructed in Essex in 1776 for use against the British in the American Revolution. The museum property also includes a boathouse and a research library. In December 1995, the museum was given a triangular 1-acre (4,000 m2) waterfront property, valued at US$910,000, in the neighboring village of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, by Bill and Victoria Winterer, who were among the museums co-founders. The property is used as a waterfront park managed by the museum.

In 2011 the museum caught fire. They had to rebuild part of it.
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Connecticut River Museum reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
201 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • We recently visited the Connecticut River Museum. I had learned that a ship that my great-great grandfather emigrated on was built in the shipyards near Essex, Ct. Wanting to learn more about the... 
    We recently visited the Connecticut River Museum. I had learned that a ship that my great-great grandfather emigrated on was built in the shipyards near Essex, Ct. Wanting to learn more about the...  more »
  • We had a beautiful cruise on the CT River on the Onrust, the replica of the Dutch sailing ship that explored the river. The captain was so knowledgeable about the wildlife as well as the history... 
    We had a beautiful cruise on the CT River on the Onrust, the replica of the Dutch sailing ship that explored the river. The captain was so knowledgeable about the wildlife as well as the history...  more »
Google
  • This was a cute museum and a relaxing ride on the Connecticut River. The two guys working the tour were charming, knowledgeable and complimented each other well. Some folding chairs were set out in full sun, while others, plus tables, were under an awning. We saw several families pack a cooler and had lunch. We purchased our tickets on line, and were pleased to discover that the price of the tour included admission to the museum. The people at the museum desk were all friendly. While the museum itself isn't that big, it had some cute, quirky artwork on the stairway walls that was interesting enough to take a closer look at.
  • Went to see the Train show and what a train show it was!! The coolest part was the scavenger hunt. We did both the Advanced and the kids, both were harder that you thought based on the size of the display!!! Like trains, love museums? This is a must!

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