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MAIN Arrow to Home LifeHome Life Arrow to New York Weekend AdventuresWeekend Adventures with James & Mom

Weekend Adventures with James & Mom .... featuring New York area weekend trips with James and his Mom as they search for fun, excitement and learning adventures! ....


Mashantucket Pequot Museum

Mashantucket Pequot Museum exhibit

Realistic exhibits really make
Pequot history come alive!


What James Says : Did you know that Native Americans did not suffer from diseases like small pox or influenza, the flu, until they encountered the Europeans? Me either. Not until this weekend when we went to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

This place is so cool. We spent the whole day there and still have more to see and learn. When you first go in there are photos, maps, and a topographical model of the reservation. If you push the buttons certain areas of the map light up, so you can get an idea of where everything is on the reservation.

As you walk through the museum there are videos and interactive computer stations available for more information. You travel through the many changes the area has gone through, like an ice crevasse.

You take the escalator down and it is like you are traveling back to the ice age. The walls look like ice and you hear and see running water all around, the air gets colder. It is very cool. Then you enter the gallery where the huge animals are and then the first peoples and how they survived and hunted. All really remarkable displays. So much amazing information you just want to keep going and finding out more.

My favorite section of all was the 16th century Pequot Village. The exhibits are amazing, the people look so real. You take a little radio with you on your walk through the village, when you enter the number next to the exhibit you hear the history or story to go with it. The observation tower is awesome. It's like 18 stories up, and looks out over the whole reservation. This reservation is one of the oldest, continuously occupied, Indian reservations in North America.

We went to a presentation given by Mohawk ironworker & dancer Jerry McDonald. He is one of the guys who builds the huge steel buildings and skyscrapers. He walks out on the beams, directs the huge cranes to place the steel beams and then connects them. He said it is a very dangerous job and his Native American faith and teachings are what he relies on everyday to bring him home safely. We saw pictures and a short movie of his work. It was pretty impressive.

Pequot Indians

Pequots head downstream ...


What Mom Says : The Mashantucket Pequot Museum, and Research Center, is located at 110 Pequot Trail, P.O. Box 3180, Mashantucket, CT 06338-3180, 1-800-411-9671. It is a new state-of-the-art, tribally owned-and-operated complex, that brings to life the story of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

The center serves as a major resource on the history and culture of this tribe, other tribes, and the region's natural history, through the use of films and videos, interactive programs, archival materials, ethnographic and archaeological collections, and commissioned works of art and traditional crafts by Native artisans featured in the exhibits.

The Research Center houses a library, a children's library, reading rooms, a research department, and conservation laboratories. The Center hosts many interesting events and activities, for groups and individuals.

The museum building is designed to maintain the ecological integrity of the area, two of it's five levels are below ground. When you walk in you enter an arrival area, a large, circular glass and steel Gathering Space. This starts your sightseeing experience. It is also the only area inside the museum where photography of any kind is allowed. Off to the side of the Gathering Space is the 185-foot stone and glass tower, which provides visitors with a sweeping view of the surrounding area.

The Museum makes the most of the latest in exhibit design and technology, the 85,000-square-foot permanent indoor exhibits offer four types of representation: dioramas, text panels, interactive computer programs, and films. Displays include artifacts, oral testimonies of approximately 50 tribal members on issues of family, community, tradition, land and their past, present and future.

The Gathering Space

Marble floor design in
The Gathering Space.


The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation/ A Tribal Portrait the first gallery serves to welcome visitors to the center with color photographs of tribal members at work and play in their community. Then on to the glacial crevasse where you journey back in time to A World of Ice, where you can explore the impact of the Wisconsin Glacier on landforms in North America as well as its regional and local effects.

The Arrival of the People, gallery features contemporary works by Native artists that visually represent the creation story of each artist's tribe.

"Life in a Cold Climate" displays life-size replicas of a mastodon and giant beaver, animals that inhabited this part of the continent over 11,000 years ago, and a dramatic diorama of a caribou hunt.

The Pequot Village is a walk-through re-creation of a 16th-century Pequot village. This is a 22,000-square-foot "immersion environment" diorama where you enter into the daily life of the Pequot. This is a favorite with the older kids, allow extra time for this area.

The Arrival of the Europeans gallery introduces the arrival of the Dutch and English settlers. Life on the Reservation shows evolving life on a reservation. These are just some of the exhibits that take visitors from the last Ice Age to modern times.

This is a great family or school outing. Our group included 5 children and 5 adults, 2 of which are handicapped and we maneuvered through the museum with ease. Everyone enjoyed the experience. It can be a very long tour and a lot of walking for the younger crowd. You might want to break it up into 2 visits to maximize attention spans.

The restaurant/cafeteria is pretty good with several kid- pleasing meals. We like to pack a lunch and picnic whenever possible (weather permitting of course). There are also quite a few family friendly restaurants and a plethora of pizza places in the area.

The gift shop has plenty for kids to plead for. I was dismayed to find that a number of the "Native American" items were manufactured in China. That was the only thing I was not happy with. The exhibits are so amazingly detailed that it is easy to forget the people in them are not real.

This, I believe, is a one of a kind native American experience. The kids could not stop talking about what they saw and they are eager to go back. That's the stamp of an excellent museum and a first-rate history lesson to boot.

Museum driving directions & admission


About the Authors...
James is the oldest of 4 kids. Mom is their Mother, a children's writer, educator & photographer. They live in New York with their Dad and pet dogs, cats, geckos, and turtles.

also in Travel -> Connecticut Tourist Attractions

 

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