• gfdc

Housed within a complex of old mill buildings in historic Turners Falls, Massachusetts, the Great Falls Discovery Center’s exhibits show the natural, cultural, and industrial history of the Connecticut River watershed. The Center’s four acres of native plants, butterfly gardens, and open lawn nestle into a bend in the Connecticut River to provide a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere and the perfect place for fun and learning.

Inside the main building, exquisite walk-through dioramas show the plants, animals, and landscapes of this 410-mile-long river from its arboreal source near the Canadian border, through forests and farms, past villages, towns, and cities, all the way down to the estuary at the Long Island Sound. A timeline indicates the impacts of human habitation on each environment over time and suggests safeguards to keep the watershed healthy and useful for all—people, plants, and animals—that live here together.

The Center’s charming Great Hall is in a separate building, a former machine shop, with a high ceiling, brick walls, large windows, and gleaming old wood floors. It is connected to the main building by a corridor whose windows on one side open onto an old canal (once used for transportation, now for power), faced on the other by a mural depicting what is found beneath the canal water rushing by. The Great Hall is used for regularly held art exhibits and special educational programs and activities for children and adults, as well as for the Friends of GFDC’s monthly live-music Coffeehouses that warm up the room while raising funds that support the Center’s free public programs.

Located in town yet close to nature, the Center is one end of an easy self-guided walking tour of the interesting little town of Turners Falls, with its historical industrial architecture and distinctive geology, restaurants, shops, and old Carnegie Library. The walk and bike path along the river and canal runs from Turners Falls to Deerfield and is a favorite site for bird watching. A short distance along the other side of the bridge leads to Barton Cove’s picnic area and camp grounds, where eagles soar over the peninsula.

The Center’s building and exhibits are fully accessible and are free and open to the public.  It is a cooperative program of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, with financial and program support from the Friends of Great Falls Discovery Center.

Visit Us on Facebook to stay informed on the programs and events at the Center and to download our monthly events calendar.

Hours & Admission

Winter Hours
Friday & Saturday: 10 am – 4 pm
(Hours mid-October until mid-May)

Open Tuesday – Thursday to school, camp, and community groups by special appointment only.

Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Summer Hours
7 days a week: 10 am – 4 pm
(Hours change effective mid-May through mid-October)

Admission to the Great Falls Discovery Center is FREE. The Center hosts some fee based programs and any fees or registration requirements are announced on our online events calendar.  If you would like a printable version of our events calendar please click here.

Upcoming Events

Aug
7
Fri
2:00 pm Watershed Wonders: Camouflage @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Watershed Wonders: Camouflage @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Aug 7 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Watershed Wonders: Camouflage A story hour with crafts and games focusing on the many wonders of life in the Connecticut River watershed. For ages 6 – 8, with a parent or guardian. This month’s topic is camouflage.  
Aug
8
Sat
10:30 am Bike Path Bingo! Canal-side Rail... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Bike Path Bingo! Canal-side Rail... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Aug 8 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Bike Path Bingo! Canal-side Rail Trail Nature Walk for Kids Kids, grab your parents, bug spray, and sunscreen, and then we’ll go exploring with a DCR Park Interpreter. All ages are welcome as we practice examining the natural world with field guides, binoculars, and a fun game to find out just how much you can see.  
Aug
9
Sun
10:00 am River Rambles: Canal-side Rail T... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
River Rambles: Canal-side Rail T... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Aug 9 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
River Rambles — Canal-side Rail Trail Nature and History Walks Meet outside our main entrance at 10 am and join a DCR Park Interpreter as we leisurely explore level, paved bike trails and village sidewalks to learn about plants, animals, and mill history.  
Aug
11
Tue
10:30 am Kidleidoscope
Kidleidoscope
Aug 11 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Kidleidoscope
Kidleidoscope Come learn about our neighbors who share our home in the Connecticut River watershed. Each program includes a story, interactive games, and a craft to introduce you and your child to wildlife along the river. Recommended for ages 3-6 with a parent or guardian. Meet in the Great Hall. –August 4           Dragonflies,  –August 11          Rabbits,  –August 18          Snakes,  –August 25          Coyotes,  –September 1     Bats,  –September 8     Butterflies,  –September 15   Raptors,  –September 22   Moose,  –September 29   Squirrels,  –October 6           Bears
Aug
14
Fri
7:00 pm Great Falls Coffeehouse: Mark an... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Great Falls Coffeehouse: Mark an... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Aug 14 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Great Falls Coffeehouse: Mark and Beverly Davis—Classic Guitar Duo Each month Friends of the Great Falls Discovery Center host an evening coffeehouse with local musical talent. Refreshments available.  Museum and Museum Store are open during intermission. On Friday August 14, 7 pm, Mark & Beverly Davis will perform in the Great Hall. Mark and Beverly Davis perform a classical-romantic-folk repertoire using two classical guitars, or guitar and mandolin.  Their over-all concern is with the beauty of sound and the expressive capabilities of the plucked strings to perform classical music, world folk music, and contemporary idioms. The coffeehouse takes place in the historic Great Hall of the Great Falls Discovery Center at 2 Avenue A, in downtown Turners Falls.  Doors open at 6:30 pm. Coffee and homemade baked goods are available. The museum and museum store are open during intermission. Suggested sliding scale donation $6–$12, free for children. Donations help the Friends of the Discovery Center provide free nature programming for the public. The Discovery Center is wheelchair accessible. For more information, please call the Discovery Center at (413) 863-3221 or online at greatfallsdiscoverycenter.org
Aug
15
Sat
1:00 pm Artist Reception: Great Gods and... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Artist Reception: Great Gods and... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Aug 15 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Artist Reception: Great Gods and Little Fishes by Charles Shaw Join us in the Great Hall for a celebration of the newest paintings by Northfield artist, Charles Shaw.  They are created through a direct process, exclusively from plaster and recycled materials.  
Aug
16
Sun
10:00 am River Rambles – Canal-side Rail ... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
River Rambles – Canal-side Rail ... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Aug 16 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
River Rambles — Canal-side Rail Trail Nature and History Walks Meet outside our main entrance at 10 am and join a DCR Park Interpreter as we leisurely explore level, paved bike trails and village sidewalks to learn about plants, animals, and mill history.  
Aug
18
Tue
10:30 am Kidleidoscope
Kidleidoscope
Aug 18 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Kidleidoscope
Kidleidoscope Come learn about our neighbors who share our home in the Connecticut River watershed. Each program includes a story, interactive games, and a craft to introduce you and your child to wildlife along the river. Recommended for ages 3-6 with a parent or guardian. Meet in the Great Hall. –August 4           Dragonflies,  –August 11          Rabbits,  –August 18          Snakes,  –August 25          Coyotes,  –September 1     Bats,  –September 8     Butterflies,  –September 15   Raptors,  –September 22   Moose,  –September 29   Squirrels,  –October 6           Bears
Aug
22
Sat
10:00 am Water Under the Bridge Bike Tour @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Water Under the Bridge Bike Tour @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Aug 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Water Under the Bridge Bike Tour Join us for a leisurely two hour bike tour at 10 am along the Canal-side Rail Trail that highlights the history of bridges in Turners Falls and Montague City. Come learn about the many challenges associated with getting over the Connecticut River in our villages. We will meet at the main entrance to the center. Bring your bike, water, bug spray, helmet, and sun block.  
Aug
23
Sun
10:00 am River Rambles — Canal-side Rail ... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
River Rambles — Canal-side Rail ... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Aug 23 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
River Rambles — Canal-side Rail Trail Nature and History Walks Meet outside our main entrance at 10 am and join a DCR Park Interpreter as we leisurely explore level, paved bike trails and village sidewalks to learn about plants, animals, and mill history.  

View Calendar

Directions & Parking

GPS Users
2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA 01376.  Please note that the address may show up as  Montague in some units.

From the North and South
Take Interstate 91, take exit 27 onto Route 2 East/Mohawk Trail towards Boston.
Turn right onto Main St. (over the Gill-Montague Bridge).
Continue onto Avenue A.
The Great Falls Discovery Center is the first red building on your right immediately after the bridge.

From the West
Take Route 2 East past route 91 to the traffic lights in Gill.
Turn right onto Main St. (over the Gill-Montague Bridge).
Continue onto Avenue A.
The Great Falls Discovery Center is the first red building on your right immediately after the bridge.

From the East
Take Route 2 West to Gill.
At the Route 2 lights in Gill, turn left onto Main St. (over the Gill-Montague Bridge).
Continue onto Avenue A.
The Great Falls Discovery Center is the first red building on your right immediately after the bridge.

Parking
Handicap accessible parking is available immediately after the Gill-Montague bridge on the right.
The main parking lot is just around the corner.  Take the next right onto Second St, then a right to enter the lot.

Contact

Silvio Conte National
Fish & Wildlife Refuge
Great Falls Discovery Center

For school field trips and group visits contact: 

Laurel Carpenter
Visitor Services Specialist
Laurel_Carpenter@fws.gov

Department of Conservation and Recreation

For Great Hall rentals and recreational permits contact:
shawn.t.kennedy@state.ma.us

For Park Interpreter Contact:
ct.greenway@state.ma.us

Membership and Support
See the Friends Page

or call us at 413.863.3221

Sponsored by:
Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
     •     Connecticut River Greenway State Park     •     Friends of the Great Falls Discovery Center

© 2012 Great Falls Discovery Center     •     All Rights Reserved     •     Site design by Starstruck Design