Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finding Treasure in New Haven, Conneticut

New Haven, Connecticut is a delicious blend of old and new. History holds hands with the present in mutual respect and adoration. It is a bustling college town with streets bordered by shady trees beckoning passersby to slow down and rest a while.
I followed the advice of the trees and wandered along Whitney Avenue. It is on this street that I discovered the best kept secret in town the New Haven Museum. I popped in for a quick “look-see” and left three hours later.

Inside I learned about New Haven from its infancy. In this civic museum I found illustrations and paintings, letters and artifacts about the colonization, the early industrial town and city of this beautiful area. When one thinks of New Haven, Yale naturally comes to mind. But there are many famous sons to whom we owe a great deal of debt who hail from this area. Eli Whitney who invented the cotton gin and Noah Webster who had the vision of establishing a uniform language and spelling common to all Americans and yet different from England, thus he wrote our Webster’s dictionary. From my travels, I can attest to his success. Just read my blog, “You Say Biscuit, I Say Cookie.” Then there is Charles Goodyear who discovered vulcanization by accident and we have him to thank that our tires do not melt on the hot streets of summer. The infamous Benedict Arnold called New Haven home as well. Learn all about them here and see the artifacts of their lives.

The museum also houses the Whitney Research Library that holds over 30,000 volumes and over 250 manuscript collections as well as maps, photographs, and family history resources. There is also a sobering display of Amistad which chronicles the events of the 1839 revolt and ensuing legal case resulting in a defining moment in the anti-slavery movement. In this display is an original portrait by Nathaniel Jocelyn of Joseph Cinque, the African slave who led the mutiny on the Cuban ship Amistad. I especially enjoyed the maritime exhibit that chronicles New Haven’s coastal trade with the West Indies, Europe, and China.

As the original sign that hung outside Benedict Arnold’s shop says, there’s “sibi totique,” loosely translated, “something for everyone.” You can see that sign in the New Haven Illustrated room.

If you are visiting New Haven, I recommend you make this your FIRST stop in your sight-seeing schedule. Why? To get insight and an appreciation for the city of New Haven. This will enhance your understanding and appreciation for all the contributions this wonderful place has contributed to our country and our modern lives. It is from this land that the independent, brave, and creative geniuses emerged. They imagined, dreamed, created, and ultimately succeeded. We owe a lot to them.

Typical in most towns, most local residents I spoke with have never darkened the doors of this wonderful institution. Just like New Yorkers who’ve never visited Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty, some locals here have no idea what they are missing when they pass it on their way to the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. I urge you to visit the New Haven Museum and get a shot of civic pride for your city.

The museum also offers educational programs with classroom space that accommodates groups of up to 40. For more information on their schedule of programs, lectures, and current exhibitions go to:

Come and let the voices of the past remind you of how we became a great nation and why it is imperative we remember that for our future.

Admission fees:
Adults $4 USD
Seniors $3 USD
Students $2 USD
Under 6 no charge

Walter Miller, President & CEO

1 comment:

Lois K. said...

How exciting. I loved your narrative about New Haven's history and the museum. Travel safe.