Date Of Visit: July 1, 2017
Location:95 Riverside Ave, Bristol, CT
The Museum is available any day of the week for special tours and facility rentals; even when closed to the public. If you’re interested in visiting the Museum Monday – Friday please call (860) 585-5411
Children $3.50 (age 4-14)
Children $2.00 (age 1-3)
All admissions include one ride ticket for the indoor carousel.
Parking: There is parking for about 15 vehicles in front of the building. There is also street parking available on Riverside Ave.
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Highlights: carousel horses, working carousel, tours, family friendly
Website: New England Carousel Museum
As a child, I always loved riding the Merry-Go-Round and looking at all of the beautiful horses on the carousel. Living in the city, it was bout as close as I was going to get to a horse. It was always the highlight of my trip to the amusement park, especially since I never was a fan of the roller coasters.
There is a place you can go so the very same kinds of carousel horses we rode on as children. And, you might also get a chance to actually ride on a Merry-Go_Round while you’re there. I’m not horsing around either.
The New England Carousel Museum is deceivingly big. From the outside, you wouldn’t even notice the museum was there. In fact, I drove by it the first time I went looking for it. The museum features hundreds of carousel horses and other types of carousel animals in their 10,000 square feet of space and several rooms with carousel horses and other items from carnivals and amusement parks. Most recently, they added a carousel on their second floor.
Some of the carousel horses have been donated. Others are being held while the owners are moving or while their homes are being worked on. Yes, some people actually have carousel horses in their homes!
The carousel horses range from the traditional horse to swan, egret, giraffe and even a cat among other animals.
There are even some carousel horses in the form of mythical characters.
The craftsmanship and attention to detail are incredible. Most of the horses have placards that give a little background to their history and the artist who created the animal. For instance, this “Irish Horse” was carved in 1917 by David Lightfoot for the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. The Irish theme was indicative of the Irish Nationalism that was a major influence in the eastern part of the United States during that time.
This “Sweet Horse” was carved by Daniel Muller in 1895. The horse, which is over 120 years old, is still in its original paint. It also has all four legs in the air which is another unusual feature of the horse.
This particular carousel horse was originally part of the carousel at Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT. Lake Compounce, which opened in 1846, is the largest water park and Connecticut as well as the oldest continuously running amusement park in the United States. This horse was taken down from the carousel at the amusement park in 1911 when the carousel was replaced with a newer, more up to date (at that time) carousel. It now resides in the Carousel Museum.
There are many more interesting stories and facts about each carousel horse.
The carousel museum just doesn’t have horses. They also have a swan, egret, dolphin, zebra, elephant, cat and rabbit among other carousel animals
Photos of carousels and amusement parks line the walls of the New England Carousel Museum and they have other items from amusement parks as well.
I even manged to photograph a dog there! This realistic sculpture of a Siberian Husky is located near the carousel. You may notice how one eye is brown and the other eye is blue.
The knowledgeable and friendly staff at the Carousel Museum give guided tours and explain how the horses were made. Some of the factoids I learned during the informational session: those tails on the carousel horses…yup they’re real. They are actual tails from horses. It is true that some carouse horses do have wooden, carved tails. But, the horses with actual tails most likely got their tails from a horse that had passed on. Also, most carousel horses were only painted on the outside because that was the only side most people would see and that would save them money.
The highlight of the museum for many people, especially the little ones, is probably the carousel ride. And, yes, I did go on it. The carousel is located on the second floor (there is an elevator for those who can’t or don’t want to take the stairs). It’s a great way to end a fun visit!
Below are two videos I took at the museum. The first video is of a motorized replica of a carousel made entirely out of paper clips. The work of art is called “Paper Clip Fantasy” and it was created by Eugene Burnstein of Lakewood, New Jersey.
The next video is a video of the fortune telling machine at the museum. Yes, it still works and it even gives out fortunes.
Since some of you may be wondering what the fortune said, I have included some photos of it below. The front side of the card said to hold the fortune in front of a mirror to read it. I was able to decipher it without looking into a mirror. It says “love me and the world is mine.”
The Nomad’s link of the day is faye_fares. Faye is one of the tour guides at The New England Carousel Museum and she is also a very talented artist. She’s an artist, photographer and model. Some of her work takes 4 to 9 hours to complete. You can follow her Instagram account here.
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