Though the carousel was originally invented in the Byzantine Empire in 500 A.D., it reached the heights of its artistic expression in the northeastern United States in the early 20th century. The New England Carousel Museum (95 Riverside Ave./Rte. 72, Bristol, 860/585-5411, www.thecarouselmuseum.org , 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; noon–5 p.m. Sun., $5 adults, $4.50 seniors, $2.50 children 4–14, free for children under 4) has systematically gathered one of the largest collections of carousel pieces in the country, arranging them in an exhibit on the history of the rotating amusement. Over the past 15 years, the museum has expanded into a campus of attractions including several art galleries, a Museum of Fire History, and a new Museum of Greek Art and History.
The person whose job it is to wind the displays at the American Clock & Watch Museum (100 Maple St., Bristol, 860/583-6070, www.clockmuseum.org , 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily Apr.–Nov. 30; 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Fri.–Sat. and 1–5 p.m. Sun. Dec., $5 adults, $4 seniors and AAA members, $2 children 8–15) must have a busy job. The museum, which was started by the forefathers of the little town of Bristol  a half-century ago to celebrate the region’s clock-making history, now contains more than 1,500 timepieces. Grandfather clocks, punch-clocks, even blinking-eye clocks—if it ticks, it’s here. And if all that’s too high-tech for you, the museum even has a sundial out front.