• 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: September 2019 Calendar of Events, August 2019 Calendar of Events, Art Naturally Series Flyer, and 2019 Great Falls Coffeehouse Flyer.

Upcoming Events

Sep
1
Sun
10:00 am Art Exhibit: Speaking for the Trees @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Art Exhibit: Speaking for the Trees @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Sep 1 @ 10:00 am – Sep 30 @ 6:00 pm
Paintings by Cindi Oldham in the Great Hall, sponsored by the Montague Cultural Council. She reflects: Collectively, we view trees as a commodity, as background noise. We depend on them. What if, in addition to sustaining us, trees were sentient? What if they had communities and wept for each other? What if they nursed and cared for their young? Would that change everything? Opening reception: Sept. 7, 1-2 p.m. tree walk 2-3 p.m.
Sep
19
Thu
5:00 pm Power Town History Stroll @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Power Town History Stroll @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Sep 19 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
  Meet at the Main Entrance to the Center, and enjoy a walk back in time along the popular Canalside Rail Trail in Turners Falls. Join local historian Ed Gregory, Northfield Mountain’s Kim Noyes, and DCR’s Janel Nockleby to discover the rich and colorful industrial history along this scenic paved path. Historical maps and photographs will help bring the sights and sounds of our industrial heritage alive. Wear comfortable walking shoes and meet at the entrance to the Center. Total walking distance is about two miles on flat terrain. Wheelchair accessible. For ages 16 and up. Program is free. Pre-registration encouraged, but not required. Call 800-859-2960.
Sep
21
Sat
9:13 pm Art Naturally: Discover Nature T... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Art Naturally: Discover Nature T... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Sep 21 @ 9:13 pm – 10:13 pm
This is the fourth in a series of water-themed programs featuring stories and art, soaking up the natural world as we go. The story book pages from Water is Water by Miranda Paul are on display in the Great Hall. Try your hand at gel printing. Water is everywhere. Did you know that an oak tree is about 75% water? Make exquisite mono-prints with oak (and other) leaves. Art Naturally programming continues on October 12. For ages 6 and up, accompanied by an adult. Teens and adults are welcome too!
Sep
27
Fri
10:30 am Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Moose @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Moose @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Sep 27 @ 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.
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