Yes, visit the Connecticut Historical Society. This time of year, the Connecticut Historical Society, 1 Elizabeth Street, usually fades in the holiday woodwork.
Not this year, though.
With it's ongoing collections, gift shop and library, it's always a good stop. However, this early winter, two special exhibits really stand out, just in time for school vacations and the days off you might get between holidays. Right now, you can see “A Collection of Connecticut Needlework: Women, Art and Family.” and if you wait until the weekend (after December 10), you also get to be part of – it is interactive - “Making Connecticut”, a new exhibition of over 500 artifacts and documents.
From pre-colonial Indian tribes right through each stage of our state's history, the exhibit is enlightening, fun and fast paced. Just enough meat and potatoes for the history buff, but easy enough for kids to digest. The project was funded by Gennaro Capobianco, an Italian American history researcher who used the museum and library for research.
Other notable suggestions include the small holiday display of toys in the main hallway, and, as mentioned, its giftshop. Museum gift shops often have unusual items and the CHS shop is a modest marvel.
The Connecticut Historical Society (with its research museum) has always been a real treasure in Hartford but it is often overlooked. Most non-profits have little or no money to advertise and getting through to the public is increasingly difficult these days with all media outlets flooding our lives.
Another reason we miss the once effective tourist district, now way underfunded and much too big.
Outfits like the CHS need the cooperation of the public tourism entities for effective promotion. By cutting tourism promotion to one dollar, by cutting the convention and visitor's bureau drastically, and, as mentioned minimizing the tourism district, our state legislature has done us all a disservice. Everybody in New England should know of the fine new exhibit and everyone would benefit from increased visitation, but, our leaders spent themselves into practical bankruptcy while killing the tourist industry.
For those really into nutmeg tales and trivia, visit the museum this Friday night from 3:30 pm to 6 pm. Diane Smith will be signing her new book “A Connecticut Christmas” and all the mentioned exhibits will be open.