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