• 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 7 days a week –  10 am to 6 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: July 2019 Calendar of Events, August 2019 Calendar of Events, August 9th Owls of Massachusetts, August 9th Coffeehouse-Annie Patterson & Charlie KingArt Naturally Series Flyer, and 2019 Great Falls Coffeehouse Flyer.

Upcoming Events

Jul
30
Tue
10:00 am Art Display: Cantos From the Woo... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Art Display: Cantos From the Woo... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Jul 30 @ 10:00 am – Aug 27 @ 6:00 pm
Sculpture by David Flood and paintings by Maggie Hodges. David Flood’s work leads him into forests to encounter how the forces of nature act on the figure of wood. Lightning strikes a tree, wind or rain batter it, frost heaves its roots. Ice breaks limbs from trunks, legions of ants leave their calligraphic prints on the soft wood beneath the bark, man and machine wade through…all are alike leaving behind dead wood. This is the vineyard of creative destruction where, to begin, the act of seeing is a type of making. David has produced natural art from wood for over 25 years and maintains a studio in Ipswich, MA. Maggie Hodges recently discovered a passion for oil painting. She loves the ability to layer the paint and to create texture and depth while capturing the beauty of the world around her, especially the Hampshire Valley where she lives. Artist reception is Sunday, August 11, 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Aug
17
Sat
12:00 pm Fairy House Day on Avenue A: Mak... @ Spinner Park
Fairy House Day on Avenue A: Mak... @ Spinner Park
Aug 17 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Just down the street from the center, we are joining in the fun for Fairy House Day on Avenue A, at Spinner Park, located at Avenue A and 4th Streets. You can make a fairy house and then meet with a DCR Park Interpreter at our craft table where you can make a winged friend for the fairies—perhaps a butterfly, dragonfly, or a bat. For a full description of events all day long, look for Fairy House Day on Avenue A on Facebook.
Aug
24
Sat
10:30 am Art Naturally: Discover Nature T... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Art Naturally: Discover Nature T... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Aug 24 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
  This is the third in a series of water-themed summer programs featuring stories and art, soaking up the natural world as we go. The story book pages from Water Dance by Thomas Locker are on display in the Great Hall. Try your hand at watercolor resist, and follow water through its journey between earth and sky. Join us for one session, more, or the full series. Art Naturally programs are also on September 21, and October 12. For ages 6 and up, accompanied by an adult. Teens and adults are welcome too!
Aug
30
Fri
10:30 am Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Rabbits @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Rabbits @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Aug 30 @ 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, interactive games, and a craft to introduce young children to wildlife along the river. For ages 3-6, accompanied by an adult. Siblings and friends welcome.
Aug
31
Sat
12:00 pm Monarch Butterfly Story Walk: Go... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Monarch Butterfly Story Walk: Go... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Aug 31 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
12:00-4:00 p.m. Join us for a migratory journey on the grounds of the Great Falls Discovery Center, as we read together the story of “a teeny-tiny creepy-crawly bug” (a Monarch butterfly caterpillar), who learns to eat milkweed, take a rest in a chrysalis, meet new friends, and fly with new butterfly wings, all the way to Mexico. Everyone is welcome for the StoryWalk®. Sponsored by CFCE playgroup and Friends of the Great Falls Discovery Center. If it rains, the story walk and butterfly making will be inside the center.
Sep
13
Fri
7:00 pm Banjo Blue to perform at Coffeeh... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Banjo Blue to perform at Coffeeh... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Sep 13 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
  Banjo Blue performs old-time blues, early country and traditional music on banjo, guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, harmonica, vocals, and yes, with some clogging! Doors open at 6:30 ~ Suggested sliding scale donation: $6-$15  ~  Children Free Coffee and refreshments avail ~ Wheelchair accessible
Oct
11
Fri
7:00 pm Ed Hines to perform at Coffeehouse @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Ed Hines to perform at Coffeehouse @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Oct 11 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Local musician Ed Hines performs traditional Middle Eastern music on a variety of instruments–featuring his original American Oud ® and uses Turkish modes and rhythms as inspirations for his own compositions. Doors open at 6:30 pm. ~ Suggested sliding scale donation $6–$15  ~ Free for children. Coffee and refreshments available. Museum open during intermission.  ~   Wheelchair accessible
Nov
8
Fri
7:00 pm Matus~Salins to perform at Coffe... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Matus~Salins to perform at Coffe... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Nov 8 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Matus Salins Marching Band: The duo of Latvian singer Laila Salins and bandleader Jim Matus performing their original songs, accompanied by guitars, laoutar and harmonium – drawing on a lifetime of musical adventures in world fusion, chamber music, folk, tango and jazz, to create sonic dreamscapes. They prefer being seated, but have been known to march, for a good cause. Doors open at 6:30 pm. ~ Suggested sliding scale donation $6–$15  ~ Free for children. Coffee and refreshments available. Museum open during intermission.  ~   Wheelchair accessible

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