The Place to Let The Magic Happen

Bristol is truly a city of small town values and many hidden gems.  If you are new to the City or just need a refresher, Saturday, June 9th is a special day to find out how special some of the All Heart City attractions truly are.  The Connecticut Office of Tourism is sponsoring the 14th Annual Connecticut Open House Day on Saturday, June 9th.  The one-day statewide event is designed to showcase Connecticut’s diverse world of history, art, and tourism and is themed “Let The Magic Happen.”  We are blessed in Bristol to have a wealth of museums and natural resources to enjoy year round.  In alphabetical order, here’s a preview of what each organization is planning for the event.

American Clock & Watch Museum
The Magic of Watch Making.

Join the American Clock & Watch Museum, 100 Maple Street in Bristol, on June 9th from 10 a.m. to – 5 p.m.  As part of Bristol’s Museum Magic, in conjunction with Connecticut’s Open House Day, the museum will be celebrating “The Magic of Watch Making.” Throughout the day, talented clock and watch repairers will be working on timepieces. Visitors will have the opportunity to see what it takes to keep them ticking. Clock and watch crafts are available while listening to the chiming and striking of grandfather clocks. Visit the special exhibition, “Scandals & Scoundrels: Tales from the Dark Side of the Clock & Watch Industries,” to learn about scandalous practices that occurred in these industries and the scoundrels who operated in the shadows.  Beginning on June 9th, a new exhibition case featuring the museum’s watch collection will open in the front gallery. Each of the case’s 10 drawers will highlight a different American watchmaker and show examples of their exquisite work. The American Clock & Watch Museum maintains one of the largest collections of American clocks and watches in the world with approximately 6,000 timepieces in its collection. As visitors travel through the museum’s eight galleries, many timekeeping devices chime and strike upon the hour. Located in the historic Federal Hills district of Bristol, the museum boasts 10,000 square feet of exhibit space housed in an 1801 Federal-style home and two modern additions. It has a beautiful sundial garden that is meticulously maintained by the members of the Bristol Garden Club. The museum’s mission is to celebrate the ingenuity and artistry of the industries that launched America’s industrial revolution and democratized access to accurate timekeeping. For more information about our free day of activities and events, visit

Bristol Historical Society
The Magic of the Past

See the Historical Society’s latest renovation as its inside is looking more like the late 1800’s.  The new General Store will be open for review.  Travel the time period from 1860 to 1960.  Remember the past and see how things really were.  Were they really better back then? Now, visitors can decide.  Look at what our parents and grandparents had to work with compared to what is available today.  Learn about unusual items and what they were used for.  Tour guides will be available to answer any questions.  The General Store also complements the Society’s already existing Industries in Bristol Exhibit.  See all of the exhibits and displays and compare the magic of the past that was once in Bristol. The Bristol Historical Society (BHS) building was the City of Bristol’s first high school building (BHS) and was built in 1890.  It is the oldest municipal building still open and accessible to the public. Learn more at

The Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut
The Magic of Nature

The Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut and the Barnes Nature Center are pleased to once again participate in the Bristol Museum Collaborative’s Museum Magic in conjunction with Connecticut Open House Day. The theme for the day at the Barnes Nature Center will be “The Magic of Nature.” In addition to free admission all day, the Barnes Nature Center will host several activities for visitors. These activities include a scavenger hunt, pond dipping with exploration in its small pond, nature walks, crafts, and guided tours of exhibit animals. These activities are designed to help visitors increase their awareness and enjoyment of nature and the outdoors. The Nature Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. free of charge and the special activities in honor of Museum Magic are happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut is a not-for-profit environmental education and conservation organization that owns and operates the Barnes Nature Center. More information is available at www.

Imagine Nation, A Museum Early Learning Center
The Magic of Cooking

“Meet the Chefs” Saturday, June 9th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. The first 100 guests will gain free admission courtesy of the City of Bristol. Join the staff for cooking demos as special guest chefs create culinary magic at the unveiling of the museum’s new mobile teaching kitchen, called the “Charlie Cart.” Inspiration and investigation flourish at Imagine Nation, A Museum Early Learning Center located at One Pleasant Street in Bristol. Twelve interactive, Reggio Emilia-inspired museum studios support curiosity, critical thinking, creativity, confidence, and citizenship. Each studio, including the all new Science & Energy studio with New England’s first Breeze Creative Animated Sandbox, is designed to engage and educate children ages between 2 – 8 and their families. Fresh and tasty lunch options are available in the museum’s own Imagine Café.  To learn more, log on to www.

Memorial Military Museum
The Magic of Time Travel

Travel to Bristol and France as it was 100 years ago and experience “OVER HERE, OVER THERE: Bristol in World War I.” Visitors to the the Jack Denehy Gallery exhibit will explore the ways Bristol responded at home and abroad to the Great War. Read letters from “Somewhere France,” postcards from German prison camps and personal telegrams. View photographs, uniforms, and weapons that tell the personal stories of men as if they were still alive today. Visit the table where visitors can handle WWI items they actually carried. Visitors can also view a stirring WWI visual while listening to a music presentation. The museum is designed for all ages as some activities introduce children to two real animal heroes: Cher Ami, a carrier pigeon that saved “The Lost Battalion,” and a Connecticut bull dog terrier named Sgt. Stubby, who to this day is the most decorated canine in United States military history. Children and adults will discover how the fantasies of a comic strip beagle named Snoopy can make us smile and also learn historic details about WWI.  Enjoy free coffee and donuts at a World War I canteen as served by the “Donut Girls” in Salvation Army canteens in France. Uncle Sam wants you to visit the Memorial Military Museum on June 9th between 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. when admission is free.

The New England Carousel Museum
Let the Magic Touch the Child in You

A visit to the New England Carousel Museum promises to put a smile on everyone’s face with a magical experience for both children and adults.  Located at 95 Riverside Avenue in Bristol, the museum is offering free admission for Connecticut Open House Day on Saturday, June 9th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  See the splendor of antique, wooden, hand-carved carousel art, take a rideon our working carousel and watch our artists restore the beauty of these magnificent pieces. Tours of the Museum are available all day long or visitors can wander on theirown.  Crafts for children will be available. On the 9th, visitors can submit their name in a drawing and win a one-year family membership to the New England Carousel Museum and the historic Bushnell Park Carousel. For more information, call 850 585-5411 or

Mark Thomas has headed up marketing departments for OMC, Volvo-Penta, Invisible Fence, and Continental Airlines. He is the Marketing and Public Relations Specialist for the Bristol Development Authority. He was recently named to the 2018 Top Social Media “Movers & Shakers” list by PR News.  The Bristol Development Authority (BDA) works to improve the physical, economic, and social environment of the Bristol community by serving as the primary governmental organization dedicated to promoting commercial development, to preserving and improving the City’s housing stock, and to securing and administering the resources required to carry out these goals. The BDA is overseen by an appointed nine-member Board of Commissioners which governs economic and community development policies for Bristol.





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