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20 Things We Learned From Connecticut's Unique Museums

Carousels, and clocks, and creatures. Oh my! We visited several museums on our MINI NOT NORMAL Road Trip, and here are a few fun facts from four of our favorites in Connecticut.

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1. Reverend Joseph Steward's collection of oddities was the Discovery Channel before there was a Discovery Channel.

Joseph Steward opened a museum in 1797 inside Connecticut's Old State House to educate the public on the world's diverse natural histories. After a couple of moves, a re-creation of the collection is now back in the Old State House in Hartford, CT, and open to the public.

2. Steward utilized the country's oldest newspaper to build and share his bizarre collection.

Steward regularly placed ads in The Hartford Courant to solicit contributions from traveling merchants. He also used the Courant to advertise his museum to the public.

3. Narwhals are real.

And they're responsible for inspiring unicorn myths. Steward's museum includes a seven-foot-long Narwhal tooth (yes, they're actually teeth, not horns. An elongated upper left canine).

6. Carousel horses are masterpieces built by highly skilled wood carvers.

You'll be amazed at how much there is to learn about carousels when you visit The New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, CT. During the golden age of carousels from 1870 to 1930, Connecticut was home to forty different carousels. Today there are thirteen active carousels, and a lot of history to be digested.

7. Each wooden carousel horse is built using about 27 stacked and carved pieces of wood.

Most horses have hollowed out bellies, and occasionally riders are able to dig out coins, lottery tickets, and rings from within.

8. There are three different styles of carousel horses.

This is Country Fair style. These horses are made to look like the wild west and frequently have holsters and stirrups. Philadelphia style horses are made to look very realistic. And Coney Island style horses are known to be very glamorous.

9. There are also three different stances a carousel horse can take.

This Philadelphia style horse is in a stander. Standers have three or all four legs on the ground and remain in place as the carousel moves. Prancers have their two hind legs on the ground and their two front legs in the air. And Jumpers have all four legs in the air.

11. There are more than 5,000 clocks and watches to explore inside this awesome museum.

Despite all of the unique pieces to look at in the Clock & Watch Museum in Bristol, CT, perhaps the most interesting way to explore is with your eyes closed. Ticking, tocking, cuckooing, and buzzing fill all six rooms.

16. Wild Bill's Nostalgia Center is perhaps the most unique spot in the entire state.

Ok, so maybe it's not a museum, but it's definitely worth checking out. Wild Bill's huge collection of vintage odds and ends sits inside of an old Sicilian club in Middletown, CT.

All photos by Joseph Lin / BuzzFeed