Museum & Archaeology Center: Fall of Fun and Discovery


Don’t miss out on a number of natural history and cultural history day trips, workshops, field learning programs, and presentations this Fall with the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and Connecticut Archaeology Center, part of the Office of Public Engagement at UConn. For registration information visit or call 860.486.4460.

2016 Fall Museum Programs and Activities

Community Event: Hammonassett Festival
Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 1, 10 am to 5 pm – Guilford, CT

Join the Museum and Archaeology Center and the Friends of the Office of State Archaeology (FOSA) at the Hammonassett Festival and explore Connecticut’s vibrant natural and cultural history. The Festival features authentic Native American arts and crafts, music, dance and food, live wildlife shows, museum outreach programs, environmental exhibits, and the ever-popular New England Atlatl Championship. Multiple performances each day will include award-winning recording artist Arvel Bird as well as the Native Nations Dance Troupe led by Erin Meeches. Allan Saunders, a member of the Mohegan Tribe, will lead an opening blessing and smudging ceremony each day at 10:30 am. The 2016 Hammonasseett Festival will take place at the Guilford Fairgrounds due to planned construction at Hammonassett State Park.

Mysterious Mushrooms
Connie Borodenko, Connecticut Valley Mycological Society 

Saturday, October 8, 10 am to 11:30 am – Union, CT
Advance registration required: $20 ($15 for Members & Donors)

Discover the startling, colorful, sometimes delicious, and sometimes deadly, world of mushrooms and fungi with mycologist Connie Borodenko. Bring a basket and paper bags for gathering these denizens of the shadows during the first part of the program. Then learn about the fascinating world of fungi as we discuss the findings with our mushroom expert. This hike may be challenging for some and will include hilly areas.

Archaeology Field Workshop–Learning The Basics
Mandy Ranslow, Professional Archaeologist, Friends of the Office of State Archaeology
Sunday, October 9 am to 11:30 am – UConn
Advance registration required: $20 ($15 for Members & Donors)

What happens at an archaeological dig? Learn about the science, field techniques, tools, and ethical aspects of archaeology from professional archaeologist Mandy Ranslow. Participants will be part of a real archaeological field crew, doing hands-on fieldwork at an ongoing historic house excavation at UConn. Findings at the site add important information to our understanding of Connecticut’s rich historic past.

Connecticut Archaeology Fair
Saturday, October 15, 10 am to 4 pm
South Reading Room, Wilbur Cross Building, UConn, Storrs

Free with a suggested $5 donation for ages 18 and over.

UConn’s Department of Anthropology, the Office of State Archaeology, and the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and Connecticut Archaeology Center at UConn hosts the 2016 Connecticut Archaeology Fair. Celebrate Archaeology Month and learn about the many UConn archaeological investigations going on around the state and internationally. Local archaeological societies, historical societies, and universities will have displays highlighting past and current excavations and research with opportunities to see and touch real artifacts! Lectures and kid-friendly activities will take place throughout the day. Have questions about archaeology? There will be archaeologists on hand to provide answers. Whether you have a passing interest in archaeology or you want to find out how to become more involved, there will be something for everyone.

Walktober: Canterbury’s Historic Captain John Clark Property
Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni, Emeritus State Archaeologist, Ellen Wilson, Canterbury Historical Society
Friday, October 21, 1 pm — Canterbury, CT
Advance registration required. FREE for adults and children ages 10 and above.

The John Clark property in Canterbury features a stunning white historic mansion, stone walls, and idyllic landscape. After a brief architectural discussion with Ellen Wilson of the Canterbury Historical Society, Emeritus State Archaeologist Nick Bellantoni will lead a walk to the Quinebaug River, exploring the area’s geology, history, and indigenous culture. Native American artifacts will be on exhibit. This activity is part of the Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor’s “Walktober.” The walk is approximately one-mile to the river and back and is moderately strenuous. The rain date is October 28, 1 pm. Space is limited. Please register by calling Ellen Wilson at 860.546.9346 beginning September 15.

Special Series: Exploring Connecticut’s Towns–Canterbury!
Ellen Wilson, Canterbury Historical Society
Saturday, November 5, 10 am to 12 noon – Canterbury, CT
Advance registration required: $20 ($15 for Members & Donors)

Nestled in Northeast Connecticut's beautiful "Quiet Corner", Canterbury comprises a rich mix of historical tradition, a wide variety of tradespeople and small businesses, unique ecological features, and beautiful vistas. Originally part of Plainfield, in 1703 the Town of Canterbury was officially established on the west side of Quinebaug River when its settlers grew tired of crossing the river for church services.

This Old House Magazine named Canterbury the “Best Old House Neighborhood in Connecticut.” The tour will focus on Canterbury’s National Historic District. Centered around the Canterbury green, the architecture of the easily walkable historic district comprises a small index of 18th and 19th New England building styles, with Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian examples, including the so-called “Canterbury style.” Within this same compact area is a house where Benedict Arnold was a student, a restored 19th century one-room district schoolhouse, and the Prudence Crandall Museum—the nation’s first academy for girls and young women of color, and home of Connecticut’s official state heroine. We’ll end our visit to Canterbury with a snack by the blazing kitchen hearth fire of an 18th century house on the green.

From Poultry to Penguins! What Came After UConn
Laurie Macha, Josh Davis, and Eric Fox, Mystic Aquarium
Saturday, November 12, 3 pm – Biology/Physics Building, Room 130, UConn

Mystic Aquarium staff Laurie Macha, Josh Davis, and Eric Fox all began their careers working with endangered African penguins shortly after graduating from the University of Connecticut with Animal Science degrees. Through activities such as oil spill cleanups, rehabilitation work, and interactive programming all three have been integral in Mystic Aquarium's African penguin conservation efforts both in Mystic, Connecticut and abroad in South Africa. They will share the paths they took to their careers and why their work is so important to a species threatened with extinction. 

The Botany of Thanksgiving
Dr. Pamela Diggle, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UConn
Saturday, November 19, 1 pm – Biology/Physics Building, Room 130, UConn 

In the eyes of a botanist, the year’s biggest meal is a celebration of the plants in our lives: the potatoes, carrots, cloves, lettuce, celery and sage, and of all the holiday foods that people savor, from stuffing to cranberry sauce to pumpkin pie. Turkey may be the star of the day, but the plants on the menu give it that extra oomph. Thanksgiving’s plants are just doing what we all do: making a living, setting something aside for a rainy day, and looking for love. It’s the strategies that particular plants employ in those pursuits that make them delectable. Explore the biology of the plants we eat, what makes them so delicious, and role of that deliciousness in the lives of those familiar plants.

Connecticut’s Early European Settlers–Year 2 Excavations 

Dr. Brian Jones, State Archaeologist, Museum of Natural History, UConn

Saturday, December 10th, 3 pm – Biology/Physics Building, Room 130, UConn

At ongoing archaeological digs the past two summers, archaeologists unearthed rich data about Connecticut’s early colonial past. Join Dr. Brian Jones, Connecticut’s State Archaeologist who led these excavations, and discover what these recent archaeological explorations in Windsor and Glastonbury tell us about Connecticut’s earliest European settlers.

The American Museum of Natural History, New York City
Saturday, December 17
Advance registration required: Bus Fee $60 ($50 for Members & Donors)
Departing from Storrs, CT and Cromwell, CT
All ages are welcome. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Explore the world's largest natural history museum, the American Museum of Natural History. It is one of the world's preeminent institutions for scientific research and education, with collections of more than 32 million specimens. Special temporary exhibits include The Titanosaur, Dinosaurs Among Us, and Crocs. The spectacular permanent exhibits feature dinosaurs, world cultures, gems, minerals, animals of the world, biodiversity, and the Hayden Planetarium. This is also a festive time to visit NYC in all its holiday splendor!

The bus will leave Storrs at 8 am and have a second pick-up in Cromwell at 8:45 am. The bus will depart AMNH for Connecticut at 4 pm. Please arrive and be prepared to board the bus prior to departure times. Admission to the Museum is not included and should be paid at the door or online. For a preview, and prices for admission packages, go to the AMNH website