Fairfield County Museums: Top 10 Most Unique Spots | Stanton House Inn

Contemporary art galleries

Explore the diverse world of Fairfield County museums. Immerse yourself in the art, history, and interactive exhibits offered by the museums in this vibrant region.

 

One of the best ways to get to know about a town’s history and culture is through museums! Whether you want to check out art museums or those with artifacts, there are many great spots in Fairfield County that will show you all there is to know about the area.

 

Plus, they’re a great way to spend time exploring on a rainy afternoon!

 

Connecticut is home to several museums that offer a diverse range of exhibits and experiences. Here are some of the best museums in Fairfield County, CT:

The Barnum Museum

Exterior of the PT Barnum Museum

The PT Barnum Museum is located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and is dedicated to the life and legacy of P.T. Barnum, the famous showman and circus owner. Visiting this museum will help you learn about Barnum’s life, the history of the circus, and other related topics.

 

The museum is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10 AM to 3 PM. During your time at the museum, you’ll be able to check out collections and exhibits. These focus on more than 60,000 artifacts relating to Barnum, Bridgeport, and 19th century America.

 

The Barnum Museum received a National Historic Landmark Designation from the National Park Service in August. However, the museum remains closed as they are preparing for major construction of the historic exterior. The new immersive 21st-century Barnum Museum is on the horizon, which is why we’re keeping it on the list.

 

Stamford Museum & Nature Center

Stamford Museum & Nature Center

The Stamford Museum & Nature Center is an art, history, nature, and agricultural sciences museum located in Stamford, Connecticut. It’s situated on a 118-acre property that includes a 10-acre working farm (Heckscher Farm), the Overbrook Nature Center, and 80 acres of outdoor trails. While you’re on the grounds, be sure to also check out the large planetarium to learn even more. There’s also a 4-story observatory with a research telescope.

 

While you’re walking the hiking trails, be sure to stop by the otter pond to catch a sight of some cute pups. Walking around is also great with kids, as there’s a playground for them to burn some energy at, making it very family friendly. 

 

The museum’s permanent collection contains over 20,000 items divided into five categories:

  • Natural History
  • Native American artifacts and artwork
  • American History and Culture
  • European and American fine art from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • Agriculture Artifacts. 

 

The museum also hosts rotating exhibitions throughout the year, so there’s plenty to check out that’s new.

 

The museum is open every day from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission fees are broken down as the following: 

  • $12 for adults
  • $10 for seniors (65+)
  • $8 for students (18+ with ID)
  • $5 for children (4-17)
  • Free for children under 3 

 

Greenwich Historical Society

Campus of the Greenwich Historical Society

The Greenwich Historical Society is a museum home to the Bush Holley House. It’s a National Historic Landmark and home to Connecticut’s first art colony from 1890 to 1920. The museum also features exhibits on the art and artists of the Cos Cob art colony, an American Impressionist art collection, among others.

 

The Greenwich Historical Society has hosted several exhibitions in the past, including: 

 

  • “An Unfinished Revolution: The Woman’s Suffrage Centennial” 
  • “Beautiful Work: The Art of Greenwich Gardens and Landscapes” 
  • “Lost Landscape Revealed: Childe Hassam and The Red Mill, Cos Cob”

 

The museum is open to the public on Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 4PM. Admission fees are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (62+), $6 for students (18+ with ID), and free for children under 18 years old.

 

And a stop at their cute museum store is worth a visit on its own.

 

Bush-Holley House

Bush-Holley House, open daily and open year-round

The Bush-Holley House is a National Historic Landmark. This historic house museum is in the Cos Cob, CT, borough of Greenwich. The house was built in stages, starting in 1728-1730. This was when a one-room, two-story structure on a hilltop was built overlooking the harbor. It was a prime spot to load and unload cargo for the New York trade. A few years later, the main “salt box” house was built. Then, in 1738, Justus Bush, a wealthy Dutch Greenwich farmer and town selectman, purchased but did not occupy it. 

 

The museum presents visitors with two distinct time periods: the New Nation (1790-1825) and the Cos Cob Art Colony (1890-1920). Eight evocative, well-documented rooms tell a story of change over time. Meanwhile, the historic buildings, landscape, and gardens evoke the turn of the twentieth century when the Cos Cob School became the first art colony in Connecticut.

 

At that time, the property served as a boarding house for now famous American artists like John Henry Twachtman.

 

The museum’s permanent collection contains over 20,000 items divided into five categories: 

  • Natural History
  • Native American artifacts and artwork
  • American History and Culture
  • European and American fine art from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • Agriculture Artifacts 

 

Bruce Museum

The Bruce Museum

The Bruce Museum is located in Greenwich and features art and natural history exhibition spaces. The museum’s permanent exhibition features a minerals gallery, a marine tank, and displays that explain the environmental and historical development of the area.

 

The museum presents more than a dozen changing exhibitions annually, highlighting art, science, and natural history. Some of the current exhibitions include:

 

  • Connecticut Modern: Art, Design, and the Avant-Garde, 1930–1960. This exhibition showcases the works of Connecticut artists who were at the forefront of modernism in the mid-twentieth century. The exhibition runs from September 23, 2023, to January 7, 2024.
  • Robert Motherwell and Multiplicity. This exhibition features works by Robert Motherwell, an American painter, printmaker, and editor who was one of the youngest of the New York School. The exhibition runs from September 23, 2023, to December 3, 2023.
  • Monsters and Mermaids: Unraveling Natural History’s Greatest Hoaxes. This exhibition explores the history of natural history hoaxes and how they have shaped our understanding of the world around us. The exhibition runs from August 26, 2023, to February 11, 2024.
  • Then Is Now: Contemporary Black Art in America. This exhibition features works by contemporary Black artists who are exploring issues of identity, race, and social justice in their art. The exhibition runs from April 2, 2023, to October 15, 2023.

 

The Bruce Museum is open every day from 10 AM to 5 PM. Admission fees are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (65+), $8 for students (18+ with ID), $5 for children (4-17), and free for children under 3. This is another great museum store, by the way.

 

Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is one of the best things to do in Ridgefield, CT, featuring a permanent exhibition space highlighting a minerals gallery, a marine tank, and displays that explain the environmental and historical development of the area.

 

The museum presents more than a dozen changing exhibitions annually that focus on art, science, and natural history. Some of the current exhibitions include:

 

  • Chiffon Thomas: The Cavernous
  • Yvette Mayorga: Dreaming of You
  • Raven Halfmoon: Flags of Our Mothers
  • Aldrich Projects: Ping Zheng: Where Memories of Travels Go

 

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum also highlights a sculpture garden, allowing you to see art and beauty across the land.

 

The museum is open every day except Tuesdays from noon to 5 PM. Admission fees are $15 for adults, $9 for seniors (60+), $9 for students, and free for members, educators, children under 13, and military families on third Saturdays.

 

Connecticut Air & Space Museum

Cockpit of a helicopter at the Connecticut Air & Space Center

The Connecticut Air & Space Center is a small museum near Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, CT, that displays vintage aircraft and aviation-related artifacts. It includes nine different aircraft, including a 1945 Vought/Goodyear FG-1D Corsair and a 1961 Northrop T-38A Talon, the world’s first supersonic jet trainer. It is one of the few museums in the United States housed in a genuine WWII aircraft factory, having opened in 1998. The center also has exhibits about the history of the Stratford Army Engine Plant.

 

Fairfield Museum & History Center

Solo exhibitions and educational opportunities at the Fairfield Museum & History Center

The Fairfield Museum and History Center is a cultural resource that inspires imagination through history, art, and humanities. Photography, regional history, colonial justice, immigration, climate change, and war are among the topics covered in rotating exhibitions. The Victorian Cottage is a children’s area where kids can dress up, build a town, and learn about local history. The ongoing exhibition Creating Community: Exploring 375 Years of Our Past, as well as the annual Holiday Express Train Show, their version of a polar express train ride, are both popular with families. The center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily in Fairfield, Connecticut.

 

 

 

More Fairfield County Museums

Philip Johnson Glass House

Other Fairfield County museums to check out in the area, from New Canaan to Norwalk, include: 

 

  • The Glass House: A historic house museum located in New Canaan, CT, designed by architect Philip Johnson as his own residence and built between 1949 and 1995. Philip Johnson’s Glass House is set on 49-acres that also features a permanent collection of 20th-century painting and sculpture, along with temporary exhibitions.

 

  • Stepping Stones Museum: A hands-on children’s museum located in Norwalk, CT, designed for children ages 10 and under. Stepping Stones Museum features numerous interactive exhibits that are designed to engage children in many ways.

 

  • Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum: A historic house museum located in Norwalk, CT, that was built in the Victorian Era, between 1864 and 1868 for LeGrand Lockwood, a railroad and banking magnate. The mansion is a National Historic Landmark regarded as one of the earliest and most significant Second Empire Style country houses in the United States.

 

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