April 23, 2014

Connecticut River Museum Livens Things Up . . . 19th-Century Style

 

The historic Samuel Lay House is the venue for Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern. The beautiful home is now part of the Connecticut River Museum campus and overlooks the River. Photo by Bill Yule, Connecticut River Museum

The historic Samuel Lay House is the venue for Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern. The beautiful home is now part of the Connecticut River Museum campus and overlooks the River. Photo by Bill Yule, Connecticut River Museum

Essex, CT – The Connecticut River Museum (CRM) premiers the Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern program on Saturday, April 26.  With gourmet historic food, wine and beer tastings, music and games, the museum will unveil its newest property overlooking the Connecticut River. 

Christopher Dobbs, Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum, said that “We wanted a fun program that pulls people into the museum and provides a unique experience.”  He also noted that this is one of several events taking place along the lower Connecticut River that commemorates the April 8, 1814 British Raid on Essex.  Dobbs said “I can’t think of a better way to give people a sense of life in Essex in 1814 than seeing the Lay House by candlelight, indulging in libations and good food, and enjoying period entertainment.”

The evening will include drinking songs and ballads by noted folk musician Don Sineti.  Sineti is best known for his sea chanteys and lively banjo music.  Catering by Selene is creating appetizer-sized samples of early 19th-century food.  These are based on chef Selene Sweck’s extensive research and collection of early American cookbooks and will comprise such foods as roasted corn chowder, pork pie and cranberry pudding.  Fine crafted Connecticut beer by City Steam and Shebeen Breweries will be available.  Shebeen is brewing a special beer just for this night that is based on a 19th-century recipe.  Also available will be select period appropriate wines.  As part of the evening, participants will have an opportunity to try their hand at historic games such as Skittles (played with a top that goes through a maze knocking down pins) and Captain’s Mistress, a game with a scandalous sounding name. 

Space is extremely limited with programs at 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM.  The $18 CRM museum member and $22 general public tickets include a wine and beer tasting, period appetizers, one complimentary drink and entertainment.  Additional drinks will be available for purchase.  Call 860-767-8269 or visit ctrivermuseum.org to buy your tickets.  Reservations are required and you must be 21 or older to participate.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm and closed on Mondays. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children age 6-12, free for children under 6.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org

April Vacation Week Workshops at the Connecticut River Museum – Apr. 14 – 18

 

Join CRM during April School Vacation for a week of creativity and discovery at the Connecticut River Museum. Come for one session or the whole week!

Join CRM during April School Vacation for a week of creativity and discovery at the Connecticut River Museum. Come for one session or the whole week!

When school is out, CRM is the place to be! Whether you have two days off or the entire week, there is something fun and exciting waiting for you at the Museum!! Bring your imagination and come prepared to create and experiment as we explore the River and its history. The programs run Monday – Friday April 14 – 18, from 9:00am – 12:00pm.  Each workshop for ages 6 – 12 includes exploration activities in the museum, time outdoors doing nature, science and history projects, and arts and crafts.

Programs are $25/day, $110/week for CRM members and $30/DAY, $135/week for nonmembers. Advance registration is required and space is limited.

To register, please email jwhitedobbs@ctrivermuseum.org or call 860.767.8269 x113. Visit ctrivermuseum.org for more information. The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street.

Exhibition Commemorating the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 at the CRM

 

Departure, by Victor Mays, Connecticut River Museum collection.

Departure, by Victor Mays, Connecticut River Museum collection.

As part of the 200th anniversary of the British Raid on Essex, the Connecticut River Museum will host a traveling fine art exhibit by members of the American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA). Twenty-five paintings by sixteen different artists illustrate the various arenas of military action that unfolded during this War which was largely fought on the water. The exhibit is comprised of three theaters of war: the oceans; the Great Lakes; and the bays, estuaries, sounds and rivers of the Eastern United States. The paintings include oils and watercolors, and depict scenes of famous engagements as well as lesser known vessels and locales. While many of the works of art present traditional views of the great navy vessels on the high seas or in action, others feature more personal views of men, giving the war a human face.

The American Society of Marine Artists was founded in 1978 by a small group of professional artists who shared a love for all things maritime. The Connecticut River Museum is pleased to team with ASMA for this themed exhibit. 

The Connecticut River Museum is one of five national venues in which this exhibit will travel. It will be on display during the bicentennial of the April, 1814 British Raid on Essex.  The Raid has been the subject of considerable research and attention at the Museum in recent years and will culminate during the spring of 2014 with this special exhibit along with a series of related programs and events.

In addition to the exhibition, the Connecticut River Museum will be offering a series of programs about the War of 1812 and the art in the exhibition.  The Naval War of 1812 Illustrated program will be a four part series running Thursday evenings from March 27 – April 17 at 5:30pm. To commemorate the bicentennial, the American Society of Marine Artists has released this video series and it is with great pleasure that CRM is able to make it available. Each program will explore a different aspect of the naval war from Open Ocean to the Great Lakes, to rivers and coastal conflicts. The programs will include commentary from CRM staff and ASMA artists. You may register for one session or all 4. The program series is free for CRM members and $7 session, $20 for the series for nonmembers. Please call 860-767-8269 for information or to reserve a space. For more information on the exhibition and related programs, please visit ctrivermuseum.org. The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm and closed on Mondays.

 

 

Local Battlefield Site Moves Closer to Federal Recognition

Archeologists investigated sites along the Connecticut River in Old Saybrook and Essex and discovered a variety of objects linked to the 1814 Raid.

Archeologists investigated sites along the Connecticut River in Old Saybrook and Essex and discovered a variety of objects linked to the 1814 Raid.

ESSEX – Following nearly six years of planning, historic research and archeological digs, the War of 1812 era battlefield site along the mouth of the Connecticut River is moving closer to receiving federal recognition.  The British Raid on Pettipaug (Essex, CT) occurred on April 7 and 8, 1814.  During this engagement, 27 American vessels were destroyed, resulting in the country’s largest loss of ships during the War of 1812.

The Connecticut River Museum in Essex has spearheaded this effort.  In 2012, the Museum received a grant through the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program to identify and document the British Raid in preparation for nominating it to the National Register of Historic Places as a battle site. If accepted, the battle site would include several locales: the Village of Essex; portions of Watrous Point; Ayer’s Point; and Saybrook Point. These areas along the Connecticut River include the peninsula of Essex which served as the British landing site, several period buildings, and locations of former shipyards where ships were burned.  Also included are sites along the River in Old Saybrook, where Americans fired on the enemy in an attempt to prevent their escape.

Speaking on behalf of the Connecticut River Museum, executive director Christopher Dobbs said “This will be a significant honor for our region.” Dobbs went on to say, “National recognition is yet one more way to elevate the importance of the River and bring tourists to the area.”  Stacey Vairo, State Historic Preservation Officer, noted that “Battle site designation is largely symbolic and recognizes the area’s significance in State and National history.”

As a next step for battle site designation, the State Historic Preservation Board will meet to review the nomination at their scheduled meeting on January 27, 2014.  In preparation for this meeting, the Connecticut River Museum will host a short information meeting with project archeologist Kevin McBride from the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, whose team has conducted the field work in this project, and Stacey Vairo, State Historic Preservation Officer.  The meeting is free and open to the public and will take place on Tuesday, January 21at 5:30 PM at the Connecticut River Museum, 67 Main Street, Essex, CT. Following the State review, the application will most likely move to the national level.  It is the intent by many in Essex to have the nomination completed in time for the bicentennial of the event in 2014.

For more information about the proposed nomination and National Register process, please contact the State Historic Preservation Office at 860-256-2766.

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Connecticut River Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River. For a full listing of event details, go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

New Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum Appointed

Chris Dobbs will take the helm as Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum on November 18th.

Chris Dobbs will take the helm as Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum on November 18th.

ESSEX, CT — Christopher I. Dobbs has been named Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum. For the past nine years, Dobbs has been the Executive Director of the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society in West Hartford. During his tenure, Dobbs led efforts to restore the Webster House, which is a National Landmark building, and reinvigorate its exhibits. He also developed many innovative public programs, including “Tavern Nights”, “Webster’s War of the Words” a word game show featuring Connecticut celebrities, and “West Hartford Hauntings,” a popular historical program that was held in cemeteries. Under his leadership, the Webster House won several awards for its exhibits, and the museum received several significant grants. The museum’s attendance and its number of volunteers increased, and membership grew by 40 percent. Dobbs also helped lead a capital campaign that raised $1.2 million, 20 percent more than its goal.

“Chris Dobbs is a seasoned and innovative museum professional who has a proven track record as a museum leader who can inspire community engagement,” said Peter Prichard, chair of the Connecticut River Museum. “He is also a very versatile and talented manager. We were fortunate to be able to hire him and we expect great things under his leadership.”

Brenda Milkofsky, the founding director of the Museum who has served as interim director since July, said: “Next year is the Museum’s 40th Birthday so this is the perfect time for fresh ideas and renewed energy and Chris Dobbs brings both to this maturing institution. He’s an experienced museum professional, well-grounded in history who will help us recommit to the public service and educational standards of our mission.”

Dobbs said “I am looking forward to taking the helm of the Connecticut River Museum and working with its Board, staff, and community to expand the museum’s reach and cultural impact.” He went on to say that “The museum has a critical mission to preserve, document, and engage thousands of visitors each year with New England’s most significant, and in my opinion, most beautiful inland waterway.”

Dobbs, 42, has a bachelor’s degree in American history from Indiana University and a Master’s Degree in museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, which is a joint project of the State University College of New York and the New York Historical Society. He now serves on the board of the Cooperstown Alumni Association. Dobbs began his career in history museums as an intern when he was still in college in the mid-1990s. In 1998 he joined Mystic Seaport, where he served as Supervisor of Special Interpretative Programs, including the Lantern Light Tours, before being promoted to Associate Director of Education. For the past six years, he has also served as a Peer Advisor to museum and non-profit leaders for the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, assisting non-profits around the state with strategic planning, development and program creation.

In his spare time, Dobbs enjoys woodworking and recently restored an antique boat. He is married to Jennifer White-Dobbs, Director of Education of the Connecticut River Museum. The couple has two children and they live in Deep River.

February Vacation Week Programs at the Connecticut River Museum

art project in process

Art activities and outdoor adventures are part of the week at the Connecticut River Museum’s February Vacation Week Programs.

Essex, CT – When school is out, the Connecticut River Museum is the place to be! Take a hike, create a masterpiece, challenge yourself to a scavenger hunt or take a cruise up the river on an eagle boat trip. Our February Vacation Week is packed full of discovery, exploration and fun. Plan to come for a day or two, or join us for the week.  Weather permitting a portion of each day will be spent outdoors, appropriate clothing is required. Each program runs from 9:00 – 12:00 and is designed for children ages 7 – 12.  The member fee is $25 per day for the Tuesday – Thursday sessions, $35 for Friday and $95 for the week.  The non-member fee is $30 per day for Tuesday – Thursday, $40 for Friday and $110 for the week.  Advance registration is required.  To reserve a space, download and mail in the registration form from the website: www.ctrivermuseum.org, or contact the education department at 860-767-8269 x113 or jwhitedobbs@ctrivermuseum.org

Tuesday, February 19: Museum Quest
What treasures live in the Museum? It’s discovery day as we explore the galleries, solve puzzles, create our own I SPY adventures to challenge our friends and make masterpieces inspired by the museum collections.

Wednesday, February 20: Winter Wonderland
Bundle up for outdoor exploration as we take a nature hike to search for animal tracks and other natural treasures. Back inside we will create nature collages and paint winter landscapes.

Thursday, February 21: Sail Away
Ahoy Mateys! Join us for a day of sailor life as we build model boats, make sailor crafts, perfect the art of knot tying, send secret messages with signal flags and play a treasure hunt navigation game.

Friday, February 22: EagleWatch Adventure
Join us for an adventure on Project Oceanology’s Enviro-lab III as we cruise up river in search of eagles and other winter birds. Kids are welcome to bring their own cameras. Back in side we will create eagle art and make a bluebird box to take home for your yard.
For more information on these and other February vacation activities at the Connecticut River Museum, go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860.767.8269.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street on the Essex waterfront.