Industrial museum moves to former bookstore space downtown

Published on Saturday, 30 September 2017 21:47


NEW BRITAIN – The New Britain Industrial Museum celebrated the soft opening of its new location at 59 W. Main St. Saturday and aims to hold its grand opening late in October

For 21 years, the museum had its home in the CCSU Institute for Technical and Business Development (ITBD) building downtown. It was originally located on the second floor and was moved downstairs in 2015. This move meant going from a 2,600-square-foot space to 1,300 square feet, which curator Karen Hudkins said meant that many artifacts and industrial folk art items had to go back into storage. The new location, formerly Leaves & Pages Café, will allow Hudkins to bring out many of these items again along with other newly acquired ones.

“Visitors will be seeing some things they haven’t seen for a couple years, such as our wall of tools, which a tool collector from Texas and his wife recently stopped in to see,” said Hudkins. “We also had a group of MIT alumni come to see our collection of slide rulers last year. People may not realize that slide rulers built America. The pocket calculator was not in common use until 1970. TVs, the space program and the highway system were all laid out with slide rulers.”

The museum will also have a drill press machine used by North & Judd during World War II.

“It was declared surplus after the war and the man who was working it was given permission to take it home,” said Hudkins. “He had it in his basement until 2015.”

The museum was initially founded in 1995 by Horace Van Dorn, whom Hudkins said was afraid that New Britain’s legacy of innovation and invention would be lost as buildings came down and artifacts “passed on to uncaring and unknowing heirs.”

One exhibit that visitors cans see now depicts the history of New Britain’s Stanley Works factory. The museum will be celebrating the factory’s 175th anniversary next year.

Soon, the New Britain Industrial Museum will be creating an exhibit on sodas, such as Avery’s, and adult beverages in New Britain, to celebrate the opening of Alvarium Beer Company – the first brewery in the city in 60 years.

The museum will be holding a fundraiser at Alvarium, located at 265 John Downey Drive, Oct. 25 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The New Britain Industrial Museum is open, for now, from noon to 5 p.m. on Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Visitors are encouraged to call first. Admission is free for now but it will be $5 after the Museum holds its Grand Opening.

For more information on The New Britain Industrial Museum, call 860-832-8654 or visit or search for the New Britain Industrial Museum on Facebook.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Saturday, 30 September 2017 21:47. Updated: Saturday, 30 September 2017 21:50.