TERRYVILLE — Connecticut is home to the Lock Museum of America, one of just two expansive lock museums in the world. It has been open to visitors for decades and began offering escape room adventures a few years ago.
“If you’re interested in history, if you’re looking for a nice thing to do with your family or date nights...it’s a nice place to go,” said Jerry Milne, a museum volunteer and co-creator of the escape room adventure.
Here’s four things to know about the museum.
1. Escape Room Adventure
In 2017, the museum opened the “Lock Museum Adventure” – which gives participants an hour to decode a set of clues using materials found in the museum itself. The premise is finding “Pharaoh's Gold,” hidden in the museum by an amateur archaeologist.
Milne came up with the idea after his siblings told him about an escape room they had visited in Europe. He immediately thought of the museum and the potential draw of an escape room. Milne, museum president Tom Hennessy, Jr., and a few helpers designed the experience with no budget, using pieces from the exhibits.
Participants use puzzles, codes and riddles to open a variety of locks and antique safes on the second floor of the museum.
“People are learning history while they’re playing the game,” Milne said.
2. Why Terryville?
The biggest lock museum in America ended up in Terryville, Connecticut partly because the town was home to the Eagle Lock Company starting around 1833.
The company became a worldwide leader in lock manufacturing and donated locks to the museum when it went out of business in 1975. The collection of over 1,000 locks and keys merged with the collection of a local locksmith, Tom Hennessey, and eventually grew as others donated to the museum.
The second-largest lock museum is reportedly in Seoul, South Korea.
“We get people from all over the country, all over the world,” Milne said.
3. Variety of Locks
Of the thousands of locks in the museum, the oldest is a 4,000-year-old Egyptian lock. There is also a locking mechanism specifically for Ben & Jerry’s pints of ice cream and other more modern pieces.
The museum has several major collections, including the Eagle Lock room, the Bank Lock Room, and the Corbin-Russwin Room. There are several hands-on interactive displays.
There are also several items from the Parker Whipple & Co. in Meriden on display.
The Lock Museum of America, 230 Main St., Terryville, is open May 1 through October 31, Tuesday through Friday, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The museum can be open for a weekend visit by appointment. Admission is $4.
To explore the escape room, reserve a timeslot online at lockmuseumadventure.org. The escape room is volunteer-run and usually available for groups at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, through October. Admission is $23 per adult and $15 per child, 12 to 17 years of age.
All proceeds go back to the museum.