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Best Free Museums in New Haven

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Pardee-Morris House—beautifully restored and preserved home near Lighthouse Point Park shows you what life was like for a prominent New Haven family in the 1700s. The home is maintained and run by the New Haven Colony Historical Society, and is open weekends June through August. After your tour of the museum, walk around the park to enjoy a panorama of Long Island Sound.

One would never guess that a Gutenberg Bible, rare prints by the famed ornithologist John Audubon, and other remarkable manuscripts and journals would all be located in this library in the heart of the Yale campus. Beinecke houses one of the largest rare book collections in the world, including more than 500,000 printed volumes and several million (yes, million) priceless manuscripts. The building is a rarity itself, designed to protect its holdings from solar damage with translucent marble "windows" that allow in only minimal light.

Little known to many visitors to the New Haven and Yale area, this museum is a wonderful treasure with displays of nearly 1000 musical instruments and other artifacts. The museum is one of the largest and most important repositories of musical instruments in the world, and is especially known for its collection of clavichords, harpsichords and pianos. Located on historic Hillhouse Avenue (described by Mark Twain as "the most beautiful street in America"), this quiet museum is not to be missed.

This museum boasts of the most comprehensive collection of British art outside the United Kingdom, which includes paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings and rare books that chronicle British life from the Elizabethan period to the present. Fifteen hundred paintings showcase the likes of great landscape painters John Constable and JMW Turner. The museum also hosts concerts, lectures, family education days and symposia. The gift shop offers a wide range of collectibles, art reproductions and literature for both children and adults.

Named after the fraternal brotherhood, the Knights of Columbus museum is one of the finest religiously themed museums in America. Situated beside the Supreme Council office, the museum strives to put the various activities of the Knights of Columbus fraternity into the forefront of the world. The numerous material sources and artifacts pertaining to the fraternity are on show in this Columbus Plaza museum.

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