Every kid loves to ride the carousel; that has been true for generations. At the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, Connecticut kids of all ages can experience some of the most beautiful and rare examples of carousel animals on display anywhere.
For over 20 years, the New England Carousel Museum has been at the forefront of restoring and preserving historic carousel memorabilia. The collection is on display at the museum, located in a restored factory in the town of Bristol, conveniently located between the cities of Waterbury and Hartford in central Connecticut.
Common in Europe for over 200 years, carousels surged in popularity in America in the late 1800s, largely because of the beautiful carvings of a family of craftsmen – the Dentzels. Their intricately carved flying horses, along with a menagerie of other beautifully-crafted animals, were featured on merry-go-rounds across the country.
It is these ornate hand-carved animals that the New England Carousel Museum is dedicated to saving and sharing with the public. The collection from what has come to be known as “The Golden Age of the Carousel” is among the largest in the country.
Anyone who’s ever ridden a merry-go-round will recall the horses, and the New England Carousel Museum has some of the most beautiful carousel horses ever made. But there are also extraordinary examples of other carousel animals – like elephants, giraffes, pigs and ducks – all lovingly restored to their original grandeur. The intricately-carved flying horses are the highlights of the collection. Bedecked in ribbons and flowers, with flowing manes and tails, they are a testament to 19th century craftsmanship.
The Museum also operates the Bushnell Park carousel in downtown Hartford, Connecticut – just 15 minutes away. Museum employees have put their considerable restoration skills to work on this antique merry-go-round, which is nearly 100 years old.
The New England Carousel Museum is open from March through December each year, seven days a week. It is located at 95 Riverside Avenue on Route 72 in Bristol, Connecticut. The museum features educational programs for kids, including a very popular sleep-over program in which groups get to spend the night in the museum. Admission is $5 for adults and $2.50 for children aged 4 to 14. Children under 4 are admitted for free.