• 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 colorful gardens and open lawn with picnic tables 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 building is 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 Great Falls Discovery Center’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 Canalside Rail Trail 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 Massachusetts State Park operated by 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 & Free Admission


The Great Falls Discovery Center is operated by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Current Seasonal Hours: 

Open 5 days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays –  10 am to 4 pm. 

Open most holidays including Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Columbus Day, the day after Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day, MLK Day, Patriots Day.

Closed Thanksgiving Day.

Closed Christmas Day.

FREE ADMISSION – Admission to the Center is free.  Almost every program at the Center is free. For fee based programs, any fees or registration requirements are announced on our online events calendar.

EVENTS: See our events calendar. Additionally, here are printable versions of our events calendars and flyers: November 2019 Calendar of Events,  2019 Great Falls Coffeehouse Flyer.

Upcoming Events

Nov
8
Fri
3:00 pm Art Exhibit: Junior Duck Stamps—... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Art Exhibit: Junior Duck Stamps—... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Nov 8 2019 @ 3:00 pm – Jan 2 2020 @ 4:00 pm
Young students from Kindergarten to High School submit artwork for a statewide art contest. In the process, they gain awareness of the importance of preserving wetland habitats and the delights of wildlife. Come see the top Massachusetts youth entries for the 2019 Junior Duck Stamp competition!
Nov
15
Fri
10:30 am Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Ducks @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Ducks @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Nov 15 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Come learn about our wildlife neighbors who share our home in the Connecticut River Watershed. Program includes a story, activities, and a craft to introduce young children to wildlife along the river. For ages 3-6, accompanied by an adult. Siblings and friends welcome.
Nov
16
Sat
1:00 pm Full Beaver Moon Gathering: A Ta... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Full Beaver Moon Gathering: A Ta... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Nov 16 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
For hundreds of years, the Mashpee Wampanoag people have been finger weaving. Marlene Lopez has been finger-weaving and keeping this art alive by teaching others the knowledge that she has learned for 30 years. The designs are those of the Eastern Woodland and Plains people of Turtle Island during the 18th century. The style of weaving is called warpface. The designs are variations of the diagonal, Chevron, Arrowhead, diamond, flame and lightning. The items woven with these designs are ceremonial sashes, belts, garters, armbands, headbands, and hair-ties. Co-sponsored by DCR and Nolumbeka Project. Free admission. All welcome.
Nov
29
Fri
1:00 pm Go Green on Black Friday @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Go Green on Black Friday @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Nov 29 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Would you rather connect with nature and local history than compete with the Black Friday shopping crowds? Then come join us for a leisurely walk along the Canalside Rail Trail in Turners Falls. This walk is approximately 3 miles long, on a level paved surface making for an easy stroll appropriate for adults and children ages 8 and up.  Be prepared for cold weather, dress in layers. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water. The walk will begin at the front entrance to the Great Falls Discovery Center. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Inclement weather or icy trail conditions will cancel. Call (413) 863-3221 for more information

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

Great Falls Discovery Center

The Great Falls Discovery Center is operated by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. For questions about the center, please call 413-863-3221.

For school field trips contact: 

janel.nockleby@mass.gov

For Park Interpreter Contact:
413-863-3221

For information about art displays in the Great Hall:

Note that our art gallery bookings are full through much of 2020. When we are able to accept new bookings, we will note that here. Thank you.

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