• 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.

We are open Martin Luther King, Jr Day on January 20th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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: Kidleidoscope Story Hour Winter 2019-2020, December Vacation Week Special Hours and ProgramsJanuary 1st 2020 First Day Hike, December 2019 Calendar of Events, and January 2020 Calendar of Events.

Upcoming Events

Jan
5
Sun
10:00 am You Are Here: A Juried Community... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
You Are Here: A Juried Community... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Jan 5 @ 10:00 am – Feb 29 @ 4:00 pm
Work by regional artists in multiple media exploring maps, the significance of place, and movement across boundaries, curated by Exploded View. Where do you live? Where are you from? Where do you dream? How do you find your way? Where are your borders? Do maps lie? During these two months, you may also come upon members of Exploded View working in various corners of the building. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Montague Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.
Jan
18
Sat
10:30 am Who’s Been Here? A Tracking Adve... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Who’s Been Here? A Tracking Adve... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Jan 18 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Join DCR staff for a tracking adventure to find out who has been outside in the snow at the Discovery Center. We will investigate the mysterious signs that wildlife leave behind through stories, crafts, and exploring outside. Bundle up! For ages 3 – 6 with a parent or guardian. Siblings and friends welcome.
Jan
19
Sun
1:00 pm Exploded View Presents: Put Your... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Exploded View Presents: Put Your... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Jan 19 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Join the curators of the You Are Here art exhibit in a community mapping project focusing on Turners Falls that combines personal history with visions for the future. Additionally, this project will be available as a self-directed activity in the Great Hall January 19 through February 29. Perhaps you’ll consider weighing in with your thoughts about downtown Turners Falls Livability too. The Montague Planning Department is sponsoring a conversation, “Where do we grow from here?” on February 1st in the Great Hall, to review the award winning 2013 Livability Report (see montague-ma.gov for details), and update the public on upcoming building projects in Turners Falls. In the event of a snowstorm on January 12, the Artists’ Reception and Exploded View performance will be changed to January 19, 1-3 p.m.
Jan
24
Fri
10:30 am Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Moose @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Moose @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Jan 24 @ 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.  
Jan
26
Sun
1:00 pm Exploded View Presents: Napping @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Exploded View Presents: Napping @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Jan 26 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
These are overwhelming times and sometimes we just need to go to bed. So come do it! Sleep is necessary, and Americans are sleep deprived. People around the world often don’t have a safe place to rest. Let’s recharge. Meet in the Great Hall. Ambient live music provided. BYOB—Bring your own blanket!
Jan
30
Thu
12:00 pm Exploded View Presents: Write Here! @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Exploded View Presents: Write Here! @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Jan 30 @ 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Brown bag generative writing workshop using the Discovery Center as a prompt. Bring your lunch and stay for part or all of the workshop.
Jan
31
Fri
10:30 am Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Groun... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Groun... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Jan 31 @ 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.  

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