By Ken Borsuk | Greenwich Time | Aug. 1, 2022
GREENWICH — To promote a $15 million program offering free summer admission to kids at more than 90 Connecticut museums and sites, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz took a tour of the Greenwich Historical Society and urged families to do the same.
The funds invested in the Connecticut Summer at the Museum program come from the federal American Rescue Plan stimulus money. It allows Connecticut children age 18 and under and an accompanying adult to visit participating museums for free.
“This is an opportunity for families and kids to learn together, but it’s also a tourism opportunity,” Bysiewicz said during her Monday morning visit. “A lot of people during COVID are continuing to do day trips with their families so this is an opportunity to enjoy this beautiful museum but also some of the great restaurants and retail establishments. That’s why our tourism department is involved in this.”
The program is in its second year and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 5.
Bysiewicz also stopped by the Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens in Stamford on Monday afternoon with Mayor Caroline Simmons and several members of Stamford’s state legislature delegation.
The program is a great opportunity for families looking for summer activities, she said. Kathy Myer, a teacher at Brunswick School who took part in the tour, said many kids are finishing their summer camps and looking for activities in August.
“We wanted to invest in some fun and educational opportunities that would keep kids engaged during the summer,” Bysiewicz said. “We wanted it to be fun but also be educational. What I love about museums is that kids learn and don’t even know it because they’re having fun with their families.”
That was echoed by Debra Mecky, executive director of the Greenwich Historical Society. Mecky led the tour and endorsed the family visits, citing two-time Pulitzer Prize winning historian and author David McCullough, who made an appearance at the Greenwich Historical Society for its 75th anniversary.
“This is a way to encourage families to take advantage of the opportunity to really enrich their children’s learning experience,” Mecky said. “Nothing is more important than your father or mother or uncle or grandparent taking you to a historic site. It will stay with them for the rest of their lives. … David McCullough spoke to this very passionately to our group. He said research has shown children’s experiences learning while being brought to a historical site by their family has a greater impression and is longer lasting than a school trip.
“I love this program, and I hope it continues,” she said.
In Greenwich, Bysiewicz toured the Greenwich Historical Society’s gallery, learning about its importance as an art colony for American impressionist painters. She also toured the gardens, walked through the historic Bush-Holley House and saw the classroom and conference space that was part of a recent expansion of the campus.
She called the campus “an incredible resource” and said there “are so many treasures in Greenwich that we want to get the word out so families here and across the state can take advantage of it” by visiting.
First Selectman Fred Camillo as well as Selectperson Janet Stone-McGuigan and state Rep. Stephen Meskers, D-150, joined the tour. Camillo told the lieutenant governor how Cos Cob was once the main port of commerce for the town. Local farmers would bring their produce to a spot near the current Greenwich Historical Society and shoppers would sail in to purchase items.
“This is very important,” Camillo said. “As an ex-history teacher and someone who grew up down the road, I couldn’t think of a better place to come and learn about our history here in Greenwich.”
Meskers celebrated the state’s investment in the program.
“History and the museums of the state and the cultural, educational gift they offer us is so important,” he said.
To find out more about the free museum program, visit www.ctvisit.com/articles/connecticut-summer-museum-2022-free-admission-kids for a full list of the more than 90 museums taking part.