Are you intrigued by the rich history and culture of Native American tribes? If so, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center is a must-visit. It holds the title of the world’s largest Native American museum. We’ll delve into the fascinating exhibits, nearby amenities, and much more. Prepare for a journey through time and a world of ancient civilizations and natural wonders.
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum is one of the best things to do in Ledyard, CT. This writer would argue it’s also a top attraction for New London County, and all southeastern corner of Connecticut. This extraordinary museum will surely deepen your appreciation of Native American heritage.
Ready to explore one of the best museums in CT? Let’s get into it:
- Visit the Pequot Museum to learn about Native American heritage and ancient civilizations.
- Participate in cultural celebrations and educational outreach initiatives. Plus, enjoy amenities like dining, shopping, and recreational options nearby.
- Make your visit memorable by discovering attractions in Ledyard, including Foxwoods Resort Casino!
A Brief History of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum holds the narrative of an Algonquin tribe. Known as the Mashantucket Pequots, this tribe has a history rooted in North America’s oldest Indian reservation. Their story is one of survival and resilience, having endured centuries of conflict.
The Pequot Museum is a world-class institution owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Its establishment aimed to educate and excite the public about Native American histories and cultures in the Northeast. The museum is hidden in an ancient cedar forest, minutes away from Foxwoods Casino. It showcases the region’s rich natural history and the captivating stories of the Pequot Tribe.
As the world’s largest Native American museum, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum honors the resilience and spirit of the Pequot Tribal Nation. It offers visitors a chance to explore the unique heritage of the Pequot people and their ancestors through carefully curated exhibits and immersive experiences.
Things to do at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum brings a wealth of exhibits that will leave you captivated.
Upon entering the museum, you’ll find yourself in the Gathering Space, where you buy tickets if you haven’t already. Grab a map to lead you on a guided tour from room to room. In the far corner of the Gathering Space, a ramp awaits. It will guide you to the start of the exhibits, taking you past a grand dugout canoe.
The museum is organized to take you through a sequence of events. It’s like a walk through history. You start by learning about the contemporary Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Photographs, artifacts, maps, and a topographical model of the reservation do much of the work.
Next, you’ll step back into the Ice Age. The first of the life-size exhibits is a walk through a realistic glacial crevasse. The sound of rushing water surrounds you. You’ll discover giant animals like mastodons, giant beavers, and dire wolves that once roamed New England. Touch screen computer programs will illustrate the vast glacial ice our ancestors navigated.
In the following hall, you’ll witness a family participating in a caribou hunt 11,000 years ago.
16th Century Pequot Village
The top exhibit at the largest Native American museum in the world? The recreated 16th-century Pequot village. It’s like stepping back in time, right into a day in the life of the village some 450 years ago. The life-size exhibits of the village are so realistic, it’s as if they’ve just been paused mid-action.
You can stroll through the village, pre-and post-European contact, and see the everyday life of the Pequot people. You’ll hear the sounds of the woodlands, smell the campfires, see people cooking, talking, weaving, working.
Take a walk through a wigwam, and watch as people fish and plant corn. It’s the everyday village life of a time long past, and appealing to the entire family. Grab an audioguide at the entrance for more information.
This brutal conflict occurred from 1636 to 1637. The Pequot War pitted the Pequot Tribe against a coalition of English colonists and their Native American allies. It was a dark period in history. The climax of the fighting happened on May 26, 1637. On that day, the English settlers and their Narraganset and Monhegan allies set the Pequot fort ablaze. Within an hour, 400 Pequot people perished, including an estimated 175 women and children. Soldiers formed a circle around the fort to shoot any survivors who escaped. The museum doesn’t shy away from this grim chapter in history. It presents the Pequot War as it was, ensuring visitors understand the full scope of what transpired.
As you ascend to the second level, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with life beyond the reservation. Among the interactive exhibits, there’s one that’s particularly striking – it’s a wooden house, split in two, half inside the museum, half outside. You’ll also find displays that breathe life into the work of native artisans.
There’s a film about a woman named Elizabeth George Plouffe, or as she was known, the “Iron Woman”. She was a force to be reckoned with, a defender of Pequot land and culture. The dramatic films are a hidden gem that you and your family shouldn’t miss.
Before you leave, make sure to take a gander at the 185-foot observation tower. And don’t forget the Mashantucket Gallery. It’s a temporary exhibit, but it’s packed with intriguing artifacts and stories.
Cultural Celebrations and Educational Outreach
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center is more than just a museum. It’s a vibrant hub for cultural celebrations and educational outreach. Throughout the year, the museum hosts a variety of events. These include:
- The Winter Moon Market
- Cultural performances
- Educational programs
The museum is an ideal destination for families, even college students. It offers immersive and educational programs, workshops, and events for children. These are designed to enhance understanding of Native American heritage and culture. The museum’s commitment to promoting this understanding is evident in its exhibits, educational programs, and research initiatives. Whether you’re attending a cultural event or participating in a workshop, the museum offers many opportunities. You can expand your knowledge and appreciation of Native American histories and cultures in the Northeast at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center.
Amenities: Beyond the Exhibits
While the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center is a major attraction, the surrounding area also has a lot to offer. From dining and shopping to recreational activities, there’s something for everyone. Explore these amenities for a memorable visit.
After a day exploring the museum, there are numerous dining options nearby. They offer a variety of cuisines from casual to fine dining establishments.
Craving a bite to eat? Just a hop, skip, and a jump from the museum, you’ll find the Pequot Cafe. It’s a great spot to rest and refuel. The menu at the Cafe changes with the seasons. It’s a nod to the eastern woodland foodways, which inspired the traditional meals of the Pequot. You’ll find dishes you recognize from New England, but also a mix of contemporary and traditional Native American cuisine. And don’t forget about the view! From the balcony, you can gaze out over an ancient cedar forest.
For even more options, explore Foxwoods Casino, or the many local businesses in and around the town of Ledyard, Connecticut.
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum features a gift shop. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Gift Shop specializes in Native American arts and crafts.
Foxwoods Outlets, Foxwoods Resort Casino, and Mohegan Sun Shops in Uncasville, CT, also offer shopping options. These places are perfect for finding unique CT souvenirs or gifts to remember your visit.
More Things to do near the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
Once you’re done at the museum, the surrounding area teems with attractions and activities in Ledyard, Connecticut. Foxwoods Resort Casino, High Rollers Luxury Lanes and Lounge, and The HighFlyer Zipline are nearby. Nature enthusiasts will love the scenic Pequot Trail, which connects Ledyard with Preston. It offers stunning views of the Thames River valley.
For history fans, or those looking for more of the best CT museums, the Denison Homestead Museum, Mystic Seaport Museum, and the Prudence Crandall Museum are all close by.
Directions to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
Are you set to plan your visit to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center? The museum is easily accessible by car or public transportation. If you’re driving from New York City or our Greenwich, CT bed and breakfast, the museum is an easy trip along I-95 or the Merritt Parkway. It’s about an hour and 50 minute drive. Once you arrive at the museum, you’ll find ample free parking available for your convenience.
Hotels, Inns, and Places to Stay near the Mashantucket Pequot Museum
Located in the town of Ledyard, Connecticut, the Pequot Museum is about a two-hour drive from Greenwich, Connecticut. For an overnight visit, overnight accommodations range from casino hotels to quaint bed and breakfasts.
The AAA Four Diamond hotels such as The Grand Pequot Hotel, Great Cedar Hotel, Two Trees Inn, and MGM Grand at Foxwoods, all offer a luxurious stay. They provide top-notch amenities like fine dining restaurants, rejuvenating spa services, and high-speed internet access.
Stonecroft Country Inn provides a peaceful retreat. Set in a historic 1807 Sea Captain’s home and converted barn, it offers six uniquely decorated rooms. Another option is Abbeys Lantern Hill Inn, which has seven cozy rooms. These come equipped with:
- Wood-burning fireplaces
- Jacuzzi tubs
- Complimentary WiFi
- Hearty breakfast with freshly-ground Starbucks coffee
An iPad is also provided for guests to stay updated. Both inns also offer dog-friendly cottages.
Discover more things to do in Ledyard, CT, near the Mashantucket Pequot Museum
If you aim to broaden your Ledyard visit beyond the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, a ton of attractions and activities await. Aside from the museum, Ledyard offers:
- Foxwoods Resort Casino
- Maugle Sierra vineyard
- Sawmill Park Pond
- Colonel Ledyard Park
Whether you’re interested in art, history, or the great outdoors, the surrounding has something for everyone. Here are some more unique Connecticut attractions you can visit nearby:
- Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Connecticut
- Mystic Museum of Art in the town of Mystic, Connecticut
- Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, CT
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum is a must-visit for those interested in the rich history and culture of Native American tribes. It offers a unique and immersive experience with engaging exhibits, educational programs, and cultural celebrations. It’s an ideal destination for history enthusiasts, families, and travelers.
Don’t miss out on the attractions and amenities in the Ledyard area. Dining, shopping, outdoor adventures, and historical sites are all within reach. This blog post aims to inspire you to plan your visit and make the most of your time at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to go to Mashantucket Pequot museum?
The cost of admission to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum is $18 for adults. For children, the price is $12. Seniors and students have a discounted rate of $15.50. Additionally, groups of 15 or more can avail of a special group rate.
Does the Pequot tribe still exist?
Indeed, the Pequot tribe is still present today. The tribe is represented by the federally recognized Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. There are also four other state-recognized groups in Connecticut. The tribe owns and operates several businesses. These include the Foxwoods Resort Casino, the Lake of Isles Golf Course, and the Pequot Pharmaceutical Network.
What tribe owns Foxwoods?
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, a federally recognized Native American people of Connecticut, owns and operates Foxwoods Resort Casino. In addition to the casino, the Tribe also manages a world-class golf course, a luxury spa, and Pequot Health Care.
How big is the Pequot museum?
The Pequot Museum is an expansive 308,000-square-foot complex. It houses a variety of facilities including permanent exhibits, the Mashantucket Gallery, classrooms, and an auditorium. It also includes a restaurant, a museum shop, and administrative offices.
How much time should I allocate for my visit to the museum?
Plan to dedicate a few hours for your visit. This will allow you ample time to fully immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the Pequot Tribe.