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5 Venues That Showcase the Culture of Connecticut

As the fifth state to join the United States, Connecticut has its share of history and culture, much of which can still be experienced.

Here are five standouts across Connecticut where groups can enjoy meetings and events alongside the history, art and culture that helped define the Constitution State.

1. Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Mashantucket

The Pequot Museum, which has been tribally owned and operated since it opened in 1998, brings the histories and cultures of the indigenous people of the region to visitors today.

Mashantucket Pequot Museum
Photo courtesy of Mashantucket Pequot Museum

The museum, surrounded by ancient cedar forest, is a 308,000-square-foot complex home to permanent exhibits, the Mashantucket Gallery with temporary exhibits, classrooms, a 320-seat auditorium, a restaurant, a museum shop and administrative offices.

Mashantucket Pequot MuseumIt contains films and videos, interactive programs, archival materials, ethnographic and archaeological collections, commissioned art and traditional crafts by native artisans across the exhibits. (Photo credit: Mashantucket Pequot Museum)

The Research Center houses collections, archives and archaeology and conservation laboratories where ongoing field work is being conducted and studied.

Rentable event spaces at the museum feature 64,000 square feet of indoor space, including the glassed-in Gathering Space that can accommodate 800 people, and the Atrium and Pequot Village Overlook, a skylit space overlooking a recreated 16th century Pequot Village.

There is also a 327-seat auditorium and additional conference rooms and classrooms available for private rental.

The property’s Garden Terrace is a nice outdoor option for groups. The 65,000-square-foot terrace and gardens are available for events.

Groups can also use the accommodations and meeting spaces at Foxwoods Resort & Casino, which is conveniently located adjacent to the museum.

2. New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain

The New Britain Museum of American Art is home to more than 8,300 works of art along with significant numbers of borrowed shows and works by emerging artists. The institution was founded in 1903, making it the first museum of strictly American art in the country.

New Britain Museum of American Art
Photo courtesy of New Britain Museum of American Art

Not only can groups enjoy these works with a guided tour, but also through private events hosted onsite. Events can be free flowing throughout the galleries, allowing guests to take in the museum’s artwork.

New Britain Museum of American ArtThe 2,000-square-foot Stanley Works Center and adjoining 940-square-foot Cafe on the Park overlook Walnut Hill Park through floor-to-ceiling windows.

[Related: Connecticut Teambuilding Activities to Add]

The Stanley Works Center is the main dining and reception area, accommodating up to nearly 300 for a standing reception. The Cafe can provide space for a bar, buffet, dessert stations or dance floor. The outdoor terrace connected to the Cafe can also be rented as an extension of the space.

3. Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme

Florence Griswold Museum Adults PaintingThe Florence Griswold Museum is located along the Lieutenant River in Old Lyme. Originally the home of Miss Florence Griswold, the property became the Lyme Art Colony, led by prominent landscape artist Henry Ward Ranger, for over 200 artists.

Today, the museum honors its past through its American Impressionism art and landscaped grounds. (Photo: Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau)

The facility includes the Late Georgian mansion, the modern Krieble Gallery and 13 acres of surrounding garden, which offers diverse options for private events onsite.

The Krieble Gallery houses the current exhibitions, the admissions area, The Shop, the Orientation Theatre and Cafe Flo. It leads to Marshfield, a Colonial Revival house where many lectures and events are held.

Marshfield and its veranda can accommodate up to 75 people and offers views of the river while the John and Dyanne Rafal Landscape Center, a historic 19th-century barn, can be used for meetings, lectures or workshops.

The barn is home to an exhibition that showcases the history and significance of the region’s landscape. Groups can also add on a docent-led tour of the gardens.

The Adrian P. Moore Garden Terrace is the facility’s largest space, able to accommodate 150 guests under a tent and overlooking the Lieutenant River. The Belding Riverfront Green and veranda of Marshfield can be used along with the garden terrace.

4. The Mark Twain House & Museum, Hartford

Mark Twain House & MuseumThe Mark Twain House and Museum, a National Historic Landmark in Hartford, was the home of Samuel and Oliva Clemens from 1874 to 1891, and where Twain wrote some of his most famed works, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Prince and The Pauper.

The 25-room house is early Stick-Style architecture and private group tours of the estate are available. (Photo: Billard+Room at Mark Twain House & Museum Interior; Credit: Frank Grace)

The property is made up of three buildings: The Mark Twain House, the Webster Bank Museum Center and the historic carriage house, the latter of which is only used for private events.

The Webster Bank Museum Center at The Mark Twain House & Museum is a modern venue both in design and facilities.

Spaces for private meetings and events include the Hal Holbrook Hall, which can accommodate 250 for a reception; the lecture hall-style 175-seat Lincoln Financial Auditorium; the intimate Hartford Financial Services Theatre; and a classroom that can be subdivided into two smaller meeting rooms.

The Nook Cafe can also be used for a reception or banquet. The Nook opens directly onto a patio terrace that can be used as well.

5. The Palace Theater, Stamford

The Palace Theater, a 1,580-seat vaudeville house, is home to live theater, dance, opera, comedy and concerts. The venue was designed by Thomas Lamb, first opened in 1927 and restored and reopened in 1983 with a Broadway-sized stage, new dressing rooms, wardrobe and costume maintenance facilities.

Courtesy of The Palace Theater
Photo courtesy of The Palace Theater

The theater is part of the Stamford Center for the Arts, which also owns the Rich Forum, a smaller theater also in downtown Stamford. The Palace Theater is home to the Ballet School of Stamford, Connecticut Ballet, Lumina String Quartet’s Chamber Music Institute and the Stamford Symphony.

Palace TheaterThe venue has multiple spaces available for private events in addition to the theater and stage itself. The 55,000-square-foot facility can host 300 on the Harman Stage, over 1,500 in the theater seats as well as 200 people in the Lower Lobby and Upstage Lobby.

The facility also houses art exhibitions in the Sackler Gallery, which can be rented for up to 75 people.

Read more: 5 Offsite Art Venues in Connecticut for Creative Events


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About the author
Kate Cripe | Former Content Developer, Departments/Features

Kate Cripe worked with Meetings Today for over eight years as a Sales, Marketing and Content Coordinator. She then moved to the editorial team where she writes and edits feature, destination and news articles.