• 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 Wednesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October 23.
  • Open Wednesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting October 24.
  • Closed Mondays, but open Monday holidays.

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

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:  Please see our events calendar. Additionally, we have printable versions of our events calendars and flyers.

 

Upcoming Events

Sep
4
Sat
10:00 am Great Hall Exhibit: Make Do or D... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Great Hall Exhibit: Make Do or D... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Sep 4 @ 10:00 am – Sep 30 @ 6:00 pm
Ongoing, September 4 through September 30 Cotton is the fiber most often associated with quilts. But wool quilts were also created—especially during the 1930s and 1940s. Made from old wool clothes or crafted with woolen and worsted manufacturing samples. This exhibit curated by Peggy Hart shows examples of both and contemporary quilts inspired by the vintage ones. Includes an exhibit from Western Massachusetts Fibershed using local wool.
Sep
10
Fri
10:00 am StoryWalk: Abuela by Arthur Dorros @ Great Falls Discovery Center
StoryWalk: Abuela by Arthur Dorros @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Sep 10 @ 10:00 am – Sep 22 @ 6:00 pm
September 10 through September 22—Abuela by Arthur Dorros. For young readers ages 3-7 and families of all ages. Enjoy a story, fresh air and exercise! On the grounds of the center is a FREE self-guided StoryWalk® featuring a children’s picture book. Follow the path to book pages posted along the route. Wonderful stories to celebrate the natural world and families. The StoryWalk® may not be available during lawn mowing.* The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Story Walk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson. This StoryWalk® is provided by Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Interpretive Services.
Sep
24
Fri
10:00 am Story Walk Honk Honk: A Story on... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Story Walk Honk Honk: A Story on... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Sep 24 @ 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
September 24 through October 20—Honk Honk: A Story on Migration by Mick Manning and Brita Granström. For young readers ages 4-8 and all fans of geese and migration. Enjoy a story, fresh air and exercise! On the grounds of the center is a FREE self-guided StoryWalk® featuring a children’s picture book. Follow the path to book pages posted along the route. Wonderful stories to celebrate the natural world and families. The StoryWalk® may not be available during lawn mowing.* The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Story Walk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson. This StoryWalk® is provided by Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Interpretive Services.
Sep
25
Sat
all-day Source to Sea Clean-Up: Hard Wor... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Source to Sea Clean-Up: Hard Wor... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Sep 25 all-day
  Annual fall trash cleanup of the Connecticut River. Volunteers Clean the river by foot or boat along the four-state watershed. Join DCR staff and others to clean up our Connecticut River and its tributaries. To sign up or learn more, visit: www.ctriver.org/our-work/source-to-sea-cleanup.
Oct
1
Fri
10:30 am Kidleidoscope Story Hour: Geese @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Kidleidoscope Story Hour: Geese @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Oct 1 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Meet at the Great Hall courtyard. For ages 3-6, accompanied by an adult. Come learn about our wildlife neighbors who share our home in the Connecticut River Watershed. Program includes a story, activities, and a craft. Program is mostly outdoors. Siblings and friends welcome. No shared materials/items. Activities are socially distanced.
Oct
2
Sat
10:30 am Art Naturally Series: Discover N... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Art Naturally Series: Discover N... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Oct 2 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Meet in the Great Hall. For adults, teens, and children ages 6 and up (accompanied by an adult). Join us for two FREE programs this month in this series featuring stories and art, soaking up the natural world as we go. Come early and enjoy reading the Story Walk® Honk Honk: A Story on Migration by Mick Manning and Brita Granström on the lawn. Workshop begins at 10:30 a.m. Materials are provided free. The art technique is mixed media: make a paper patchwork quilt with watercolor sky and Flying Geese. Registration recommended, call the center.
Oct
8
Fri
10:30 am Kidleidoscope Story Hour: Squirrels @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Kidleidoscope Story Hour: Squirrels @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Oct 8 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Meet at the Great Hall courtyard. For ages 3-6, accompanied by an adult. Come learn about our wildlife neighbors who share our home in the Connecticut River Watershed. Program includes a story, activities, and a craft. Program is mostly outdoors. Siblings and friends welcome. No shared materials/items. Activities are socially distanced.
Oct
9
Sat
10:00 am Canalside Rail Trail and Turners... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Canalside Rail Trail and Turners... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Oct 9 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Walk’n Mass Volksport Club ad the American Volksmarch Association present 5K and 10K walks on the Canalside Rail Trail and through Turners Falls. Register from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. outside the center (in the Great Hall if it’s raining). Walkers finish up their strolls by 3 p.m. All are welcome to participate, with a small $2-3 fee to support the non-profit walking club.
10:00 am Great Hall Art Exhibit: Migrations @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Great Hall Art Exhibit: Migrations @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Oct 9 @ 10:00 am – Oct 31 @ 4:00 pm
Migrations celebrates the human and natural diversity of the upper Connecticut River Valley and the Americas. Paintings are curated by a local fair-trade project, Guatemaya Art and Culture Connection. Colorful works depict scenes integral to village life, Mayan culture and the history of Lake Atitlan. Topics include planting and harvesting, the outdoor marketplace, typical foods, traditional ceremonies, and Mayan “Cosmovision.”
Oct
11
Mon
1:00 pm 5th Annual Migrations Festival @ Great Falls Discovery Center
5th Annual Migrations Festival @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Oct 11 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Honoring the Migrations exhibit in the Great Hall. You are invited to the 5th Annual Migrations Festival, a celebration of human and natural diversity of the upper Connecticut River Valley and the Americas. Colorful artworks in Migrations depict scenes integral to village life, Mayan culture and the history of Lake Atitlan. Added to the exhibit are Katrina skulls created by local artists. Enjoy lively entertainment by the Fiesta del Norte Mariachi band from 2-3 p.m., Discovery Center courtyard. Outdoor refreshments. The festival is free and wheelchair accessible. Sponsored by DCR, Montague Catholic Social Ministries, RiverCulture, the Nolumbeka Project, Friends of the Great Falls Discovery Center, the Guatemaya Art and Culture Connection and the people of Turners Falls.

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 46 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:

janel.nockleby@mass.gov

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