Museums in Norwich, Uncasville and Canterbury
With the summer in full swing, people often want to go sightseeing. An annual Connecticut State program is back for tourist season.
The 18th edition Connecticut Open House is Saturday, June 11. Sponsored by the Connecticut Office of Tourismthis day features free and discounted admission, plus specials and events from more than 200 participating locations across the state showcasing “the diverse mix of experiences of history, art, culture, nature and adventure of Connecticut to the very people who call it home,” as a press release stated.
In Eastern Connecticut, many participating organizations are eager to share history and culture.
Sikh Art Gallery, Norwich
In Norwich, the sikh art gallery uses art and history to teach visitors about Sikh culture and the history of Punjab. Swaranjit Singh Khalsa, owner of the gallery, said the calendar worked because June is also the Sikh Memorial Month, which commemorates tragedies such as the invasion of Harmandir Sahib and other Gurudwaras across India by forces Indian armies, killing thousands of Sikhs.
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The gallery will be open from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, with a presentation at 1 p.m. on the history of the Sikhs. In addition to art and history, the gallery also teaches people about Sikh music and the Punjabi language.
“The Sikh Art Gallery is the only Sikh resource center in the state, where you can walk, talk (and) learn,” Khalsa said.
Leffingwell House Museum and Joseph Carpenter Silversmith Shop, Norwich
The Leffingwell House will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Silversmith Shop will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Norwich Historical Society executive director Regan Miner said the city had been developing historic tourism in recent years and working with the state. is an opportunity to bring more people to the area.
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“CT Open House Day is the perfect day to visit historic sites you’ve never visited before and experience all of the rich history our state has to offer,” Miner said in an email.
Tantaquidgeon Indian Museum, Uncasville
Near Uncasville, the Tantaquidgeon Indian Museum also participates, with free entry and tours by members of the Mohegan tribe. Its regular hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tantaquidgeon museum operations manager Stacy Dufresne said in an email that the open house gives people a chance to explore what’s in their own backyard and teach people how to both Mohegan culture and Native American culture more broadly.
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“The Tantaquidgeon Museum is the oldest Native American owned and operated museum in the United States and provides an opportunity for individuals to learn about the tribe, our history, culture and values directly from tribal members Mohegan,” Dufresne said. “As (the late Chief Harold Tantaquidgeon) said one of the museum’s founders, “It’s hard to hate someone you know well.”
Dufresne also said that during the pandemic there has been more foot traffic to the museum than before and expects steady visitor rates from summer through fall.
Finnish American Heritage Society, Canterbury
In Canterbury, the Finnish American Heritage Society will open its museum at 76 Canterbury Road on Saturday, thanks to grants from the Connecticut Tourism Board and other organizations.
The day will include Finnish pulla bread and a chance to enter an “authentic” sauna.
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Former President Anita Smiley said the museum would be open Wednesdays and two Saturdays a month in the summer.
“It’s a very strong Finnish community, and we work hard to preserve our culture and our heritage, and we want to share it with other people,” Smiley said.