COMMISSION ON CULTURE AND
TOURISM ANNOUNCES RE-OPENING OF FOUR STATE MUSEUMS
Budget Cuts Forced Closings
Last Year; $3 Million Bond Enables Rebirth
(HARTFORD, CT) - Four state museums that were
forced to close last year due to budget cuts re-opened today under the direction
of the Commission on Culture and Tourism and will be open to the public through
Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine in East
Granby, Henry Whitfield State Museum in Guilford, the Prudence Crandall House in
Canterbury, and the Sloane-Stanley Museum in Kent all opened their doors today.
Each site will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and each
will have its own admission charges.
"Connecticut has renewed its commitment to
these important heritage sites," said Jennifer Aniskovich, executive
director of the Commission on Culture and Tourism. "We thank Governor John
G. Rowland and the General Assembly for showing leadership and vision in
committing $3 million in this year's bond act for the restoration and
stabilization of these historic structures."
The four museums are now administered by the
Commission on Culture and Tourism. Created by the General Assembly in 2003, the
commission is designed to identify, preserve, strengthen, and promote
Connecticut's cultural and tourism industries in order to enhance the quality of
life for its citizens, create a destination for travelers, and contribute to the
reputation and economic vitality of the state.
The re-opening of these four museums is part of
a month of celebrations of culture and tourism. On June 15, the Governor's Arts
Awards will be presented at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, produced in
conjunction with the Greater New Haven Arts Council. On June 9, the Commission
on Culture and Tourism awarded 101 grants totaling $183,500 to arts, historic,
tourism and film programs throughout the state. And the 17th Annual Tourism
Unity Dinner at the Marriott Hotel in Windsor on June 3 honored individuals who
made significant contributions during the past year.
"We look forward to a new era working
together with partners in the tourism and heritage industry to offer expanded
programs and educational opportunities the public," Aniskovich said.
Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine is the
state's oldest prison. Modern day visitors can tour the dank tunnels of the
early 18th century copper mine where over 800 inmates were confined between 1773
and the prison's closing in 1827. For the first time, visitors have the
opportunity to see the unrestored mid-18th century home of its first prison
warden, John Viets, on the last Sunday of every month. Exhibits in the surviving
guardhouse interpret copper mining and prison history including its popularity
as a tourist attraction in the early 20th century.
The Henry Whitfield State Museum, Connecticut's
oldest house, celebrates its 100th anniversary as a state museum this year. The
unusual stone structure was built in 1639 as the home of the Rev. Henry
Whitfield, a founder of the town of Guilford. A nine-foot bronze statue
representing Henry Whitfield now greets the public by the door of the Visitor
Center where the special exhibit "Bicentennial Beacon: Faulkner's
Lighthouse, 1802-2002" is on view until Dec. 14. The museum also includes
an important collection of 17th and 18th century furniture and local artifacts.
The Prudence Crandall House offers a permanent
exhibit on its namesake, who opened a school in her house in Canterbury for free
African American girls in 1833, the first in New England. There are also several
changing exhibits on view: "Equity Under the Law? The Ongoing Struggle for
Equal Opportunity," "Canterbury Celebrates Three Hundred Years,
1703-2003" and "To Get a Little More Learning." Prudence Crandall
has been recognized as a Connecticut State Heroine for her courage in the face
of strong opposition.
Finally, the Sloane-Stanley Museum in Kent
showcases the extensive collection of hand tools assembled by artist and author
Eric Sloane (1905-1985). A small gallery displays examples of Sloane's art work
and visitors can also see a recreation of the artist's studio. The remains of
the Kent Iron Furnace (1826-1892) are also on the property, a relic of the
once-thriving Housatonic Valley iron industry. A diorama and exhibit in the
museum explains the process of making iron.
The Connecticut Commission on Culture and
Tourism is located at One Financial Plaza, 755 Main Street, Hartford, CT. 06103.
For more information, call (800) 411-1312 or (860) 566-4770.
Jennifer Aniskovich, (860) 566-4770
Ann Harrison, (203) 624-4151