How This Nonsense Began
I’ve lived in Connecticut since 1991 when I entered UConn. During the time since, I’ve lived in Storrs, Mansfield, Glastonbury, New Britain, Manchester, Cheshire, East Hampton, and now West Hartford. I’ve stayed with friends from Stamford to Brookfield to Ledyard. I’ve hiked in Canterbury, Newtown, Berlin – and camped out near Salisbury. I was on the cycling team while at UConn and have therefore ridden every backroad within 40 miles of campus. I used to ride Route 66 from Willimantic to Wesleyan in Middletown and back again in successive days. More than once I rode from Storrs to the small little towns out west on Route 44. Needless to say, I thought I knew this state pretty well, even if there are 169 little kingdoms in the state.
After all, Connecticut is the 3rd smallest state in the country and one can transverse the state from Union to just west of Danbury in under two hours. But if you were to make that trip, all along I-84, you’d be leaving a small, somewhat isolated, mainly rural and unspoiled town in the so-called Quiet Corner of the state, passing very near UConn, then cutting right through downtown Hartford, continuing west to suburban sprawl and McMansion towns, then splitting the still-rebounding post-industrial towns of New Britain, Bristol, and Waterbury and then finally, once west of there, driving into the richest county in America, Fairfield County, with its massive stone manors and absurd cost of living. One road, one state, 2 hours – vastly different worlds.
It turns out I don’t know anything about my home state. My wife Hoang and I had our first child, Damian, in late January 2006. (Read about our special challenges raising him here.) Among other far more important things, this meant that our lavish and lengthy vacations would be put on hold for a while. Our goal to climb to the highest point of all 50 states (ok, 49… and maybe it’s mainly just MY goal) would also be temporarily shelved, stuck at 17. I never had a purposeful thought to create another list or sought out something to do, just to have something to do at all.
But day after day on my way to pick up my son in New Britain after work, I would pass the above highway sign over and over. This is the sign that generated the idea… Why? Because what the heck was this “Industrial Museum?” I knew what the Youth Museum was (Hoang had been there as a child) and the New Britain Museum of American Art is fairly well-known in these parts, but neither she nor anyone else I asked had any inkling of the Industrial Museum’s existence, let alone what is was like. This got me thinking… Why not try to visit all the museums in Connecticut? Sure it would take a while, but how hard can it be to visit maybe 100 places – tops?
I began scouring the Internet to gather my list. Days turned into weeks as I kept finding hidden gems and different pathways to historical societies and out-of-the-way collections. The list grew past 300, 400, 500… It is hard to give an accurate tally because there are some museums that are only someone’s dream at this point, there are some that may disappear at any time, and several more that I can’t find sufficient information about. There are some gray areas regarding what exactly defines a museum. Over time, I’ve settled upon a slightly arbitrary system of worthiness which is subject to change and difficult to quantify. And really, with over 650 museums to visit, who’s going to complain?
I include anything that calls itself a museum, any town history “room” or display no matter how small (some are at libraries) but the most difficult determination is regarding art galleries. Some are permanent galleries with always changing exhibits – my thought is if they are not in business selling the art, then it’s a museum. This mostly applies to college art galleries like the ones at Wesleyan, St. Joseph’s College, and University of Bridgeport to name a few. I really like the American Association of Museum’s compiled definitions and think my blog is pretty much in line with that.
Moreover, I’ve added to the madness by writing about my goal to hike CT’s 800+ miles of CFPA trails too – see Trails tab. There’s also the Wine Trail, Art Trail, various historic trails under “Other trails”… Then there’s the “curiosities” tab which contains just that – all pertaining to CT; geographic extremes, caves, cemeteries, oldests, mosts, highests, state parks, other important lists, etc. There’s the “ingest” tab where all the food and drink stuff is located and the miscellanea tab, which serves as a dumping ground for unrelated – yet somehow interesting – stuff like our Top 100 English novels of the 20th century, state highpoints, and peakbagging lists.
That’s it – the genesis and growth of a slightly insane idea. A bunch of lists for me to check things off of to feel that warm sense of completion. I’m not in a race and imagine this could last a lifetime… Which is sort of the point. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: CTMQ is not, in any way, associated with any museums or other places discussed on this website. Nothing here is official, nothing is to be taken as gospel, and nothing should be used as your top resource for any museum, trail, restaurant, etc. I’m just one guy having some fun. So get out there yourselves and form your own opinions.l
Jeannette saysOctober 15, 2014 at 8:15 pm
What a great state resource. I wish Connecticut would pull up its boot straps and regain some of its economic prowress. I can to your site looking for a map or list of the existing scion charter oaks in CT. Any ideas? It’s high time to start planting the next generation of oaks.
Ted Reinstein saysMarch 31, 2015 at 11:18 am
Hi, reporter for “Chronicle,” the nightly TV newsmagazine out of WCVB/Boston, will be out in Southwick/Suffield area next week, doing a story about the jog–would love to touch base with you. Please get in touch ASAP.
Sharon Kitchen saysSeptember 29, 2015 at 10:58 am
Have you heard about the new American Museum of Tort Law, established by Ralph Nader in Winsted?
654 Main St, Winsted, CT 06098
Monday 10:30 am – 5:00 pm
Wednesday 10:30 am – 5:00 pm
Thursday 10:30 am – 5:00 pm
Friday 10:30 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday 10:30 am – 5:00 pm
Deb Cohen saysNovember 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm
Hi! So excited to find your blog – another CT blogger! Was just writing a quick post about Comstock Ferre and stumbled across your post. I LOVE your tag line “destroying the myth that there is nothing to do here”.
My blog is similar in some ways though I will branch out to other places as travel allows. But I focus heavily on historic architecture and sites, many of which also happen to be museums.
I’m in West Hartford so if you are ever up for a cup of coffee let me know!
Kay Carroll saysJune 12, 2016 at 6:09 pm
What do the initials CTMQ stand for? Was it originally just focused on Museums? CT Museum Quest?
David Westmoreland saysJuly 13, 2016 at 8:39 am
The Norwalk Museum that was closed in 2011 has been reopened at its original home located next to City Hall at 141 East Ave. Current hours are Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 4pm.
Carol N. Burke saysOctober 22, 2016 at 10:40 am
Please follow the writing/publishing guidline : Always ‘write-out’/provide the full explanation for’ ‘ any abbreviations used in any publication This should follow the first use of the abbreviations and appear early in the article
Brenda saysNovember 3, 2016 at 1:14 pm
Hi Steve – I am so happy to have stumbled across your blog. My family is moving to CT in a couple weeks, and now I have the perfect resource to get out and see the state! And your goodbye message to your son’s caregivers made me cry. My children are similar ages and that puts behavior in a completely different light. Thank you for a much-needed dose of perspective.
Rene saysDecember 8, 2016 at 4:49 pm
I have a baul with an “eagle lock co. Terryville usa” date found from 1903 on an image inside the baul. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynne Williamson saysMarch 9, 2017 at 1:25 pm
I would love to talk to you about your blog entry on the Finnish American Heritage Museum – it is a great place for sure! Could you contact me? Thanks!
Maureen Stofira saysMay 24, 2017 at 10:02 pm
I JUST found this blog and I am so psyched to follow and join in your quest! I may not be as ambitious but I am going to “check off” many sites!
Stumbled upon your blog while I was looking for info on Case Mountain in Manchester. I found that name in the CT Trails day brochure. 6/3-4 event.
I’m also huge into the CT Open House days .
I’ll be following you.
Diane Christian saysJuly 19, 2017 at 11:31 am
The website for the Academic Artists Association has changed domains. Here is the new site. http://academicartistsassociation.org/
Nathan saysMay 30, 2018 at 5:27 pm
Excellent site! My wife and I moved to Manchester about a year ago and I just found your site today. Looking forward to poking through your posts a bit more :)
Kai Hayes saysDecember 5, 2018 at 2:11 am
Could you give me an idea of where Greenleaf Falls in Stamford is? Thank you!
Anita saysMarch 1, 2021 at 12:42 pm
A new reader here. History is so important. I thank you for doing this blog… looking forward tisending this to my kids who left the state..
The tag line for our state is so wrong..
It should be .. “Connecticut, connecting your past and your future”.. or Connecticut, your place to re-create. ”
“Connecticut: still revolutionary” .. wrong.
Thanks again.. God bless your family!
The Blue State Bourbon Blog saysNovember 7, 2022 at 11:25 am
please add me to your mailing list. thanks!
Marcia C. Newcome saysNovember 12, 2022 at 6:52 pm
My husband and I just moved in May 2022 to an old house in Winsted from the suburbs of Reading, PA. I’ve BARELY begun exploring because I am still unpacking and setting up our voluminous amounts of stuff, including just a few kerosene lamps. (Sorry to learn I missed the era of the kerosene lamp museum in Winchester). I’m hoping you can educate me without laughing too much. Where are/were the Tunxis Falls at/near Winsted…supposedly just a few miles away? I have found several old postcards of this site, but I cannot find current information. Do they still exist? Were they buried under a hydroelectric project? SOS!
Patrick saysJanuary 4, 2023 at 12:59 pm
Just read your peice on the Connecticut Science Center – any thoughts on doing a revisit and updating that article?