Our third CT Road Trip of this home stay found Maria and me traveling to eastern Connecticut to visit the William Benton Museum of Art. The Benton is located on the Storrs campus of UCONN. We followed Route 66 from Middletown to Willimantic which took us through a part of Connecticut that still retains a very rural feel with small towns and many historic homes, buildings and farms.
We made Willimantic our first stop to check out Grounded Coffee Co. http://groundedcoffeecompany.org/ and search out street murals in the otherwise depressed downtown area. Grounded Coffee sits right on Main Street in a historic structure built in 1831. The cafe occupies the ground floor. The owners did a nice job working around the central four-sided fireplace in creating a comfortable and pleasing space. In addition to a full menu of coffee and tea drinks GC offers a light food menu. GC is definitely the best choice for coffee in the Willimantic area in our opinion.
Willimantic has been very active over the last several years in sponsoring and promoting street murals. We found many interesting murals, a number of which are historical murals depicting the history of “Thread City” as a textile hub during the first half of the 20th century.
The Benton Museum https://benton.uconn.edu/# is a very small museum located in the heart of the Storrs UCONN campus. There is no admission charge and unfortunately very limited parking (four spaces) adjacent to the museum. We were fortunate to arrive to find one of the spaces available (get a pass at the front desk for your car window to avoid being ticketed or towed).
The museum has a permanent collection in the main gallery – From Old Masters to Revolutionaries: Five Centuries of the Benton’s Best and an additional two galleries featuring current exhibits. We were able to tour the entire museum in under two hours. We found two of the three current exhibitions to be worthwhile – Halt the Hun: Atrocity Propaganda in World War 1 and DEMOKRACJA GRAFIKA.
“Halt the Hun” featured posters created by artists to rally Americans to support the war effort by buying Liberty Bonds while “DEMOKRACJA” provides insight into life in Poland during the Cold War. UCONN has had an exchange program with the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow since the 1980s which is where the majority of the prints on display were produced.
We recommend the museum with the caveat that you check out the current exhibitions before visiting as the permanent collection is small (but good).
For our next trip in January we are planning to cross state lines and venture north for more fika, street murals and fine art.
Be seeing you!