The Mashantucket Pequot Museum, One of the Great New England Museums

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, in Mashantucket, Connecticut, is without doubt the world’s largest and most comprehensive Native American museum and research center in existence today, and most certainly one of the great New England museums, if not one of the greatest in the entire nation.

In an independent survey, nine out of ten visitors rated the museum, “Better than the best museum they had visited in the past 5 years.”

Of it,” several highly reputable media outlets say: “[It] sets a new standard for user-operated media” – The Boston Globe; “An immediate hit with families” – New York Magazine; and, “Magnificent, [it] brings the Native American story vividly to life” – Connecticut Magazine.

This museum has collected, cataloged and meticulously chronicled a bygone culture, giving new life to a Pequot tribe that struggled hard against extinction.

In fact, it offers more resources and learning opportunities vis-a-vis Native Americans than does even the Smithsonian.

It and its Website provide a mother lode of information, not just about the Pequot Tribe, but all Native American cultures as is evidenced by the following:

“Our ancestors can no longer speak for themselves. It is up to us to speak for them. If they could speak today, they would say, ‘Look at this museum. They have not forgotten us. We have survived,'” says Wilma Mankiller, former principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

In all, there are four full acres of permanent, extravagantly detailed exhibits and two libraries, one for children, which offer a remarkable selection of materials detailing the histories of all Native peoples in both the U.S. and Canada.

There are also in-depth descriptions of how all of the Native nations and tribes interpret everything from daily living to creation, which offer fascinating insights into how their cultures evolved.

Many of the exhibits are life-size dioramas that provide robust and fascinating representations of how the Pequots lived over time and under very difficult and challenging conditions, especially when ice covered much of the continent.

They amply demonstrate the extraordinary adaptive genius of a people whose knowledge and wits not only helped them survive adversity but thrive through it.

In addition, natural history is engagingly traced over thousands of years to provide a holistic understanding of the Native American experience.

There are also ample opportunities for learning through interactive experiences, including your family’s participation in local archeological digs or making bags from buckskin, among many others.

As far as educational excellence goes, if museums were universities, The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center would be Harvard, Yale and Stanford combined.

The museum generously documents every detail of the origins, fall and rise of the Pequots, who have, since the 1960s, reclaimed some of their land on which they have cleverly built Foxwoods Casino and Resort, a success story worthy of the utmost admiration.

In fact, Foxwoods has awakened surrounding communities, sleepy shoreline towns mostly, by providing invigorated economies that never existed before and single-handedly revived flagging tourism in Southeastern Connecticut.

A visit to what one newspaper called the “most ambitious new museum in America” is both educational and fun, and a must for anyone interested in the true history of this country, as well as one of the truly great New England museums.

Due to the sheer volume of information and number of activities available at this remarkable institution, I would recommend a visit to the museum’s Website to plan out your outing before you go.