The theme of Nightmare on Main, the Mill Museum’s annual Hallowe’en live exhibit tour, in 2020 was Monsters: Beware. It was held this year in the historic American Thread Building, a.k.a. the Windham Mills, at 322 Main Street, Willimantic (across the street from the Mill Museum, our familiar home). The space — an old, unrefurbished cotton mill floor — was cavernous, which maximized safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Museum followed all State of Connecticut Phase 2 regulations for Museums. To comply with State and Municipal Covid-19 regulations regarding building occupancy, tour group sizes are limited to eight. All tickets were $15. The exhibit was not recommended for young children. Tour groups smaller than eight were combined, so social distancing regulations must be in place for everyone’s safety. And, for everyone’s safety, tour groups were escorted one way through a gallery of monstrous exhibits. Visitors were asked to stay a coffin’s length away from each other at all times. It was a FUN, “Covid-19 Masks On,” exhibit. Halloween masks and inappropriate face coverings were not permitted. NO ONE was allowed in the exhibit without a proper cloth or medical mask. For safety, reservations were required. The Museum instituted an online system for ordering tickets. Visitors chose a date and time preferences from the PayPal order system. Tour appointments were approximately every 20 minutes. Tickets were non-refundable. Visitors were asked to please arrive well ahead of their given time. If they were late for their tour sot, we could not guarantee we could let them in. The exhibit was chilling and the space was unheated. Windows were opened for air exchange. Visitors were asked to dress accordingly. Tours were conducted rain or shine in this marvelous historic building. Grab-and-go refreshments were available for sale. Visitors were asked to please take the image of their tour ticket (which we sent to them via email) and print it to present at the door. If they couldn’t print it, they could keep the image in their cell phone to show us.
The Viillains exhibit will be open from September 29 through November 17, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You may peruse the exhibit at your leisure in the light of day without fear or apprehension. Hours are also available by appointment for tours or room rentals. Admission is $10, $7 for students and seniors.
This year’s Nightmare on Main was titled Villains—Mayhem, Madness and Murder. It had two separate venues, depending on your inclination. EveningLivePerformances. There is the popular evening venue where some 45 actors came alive in skits dramatizing people who’ve made their mark in history with their villainous acts. The presentation focused on villains from around the turn of the 20th century. The format for these dramas differs from traditional stage presentations. Audience members—we call them guests—move from skit to skit in groups of eight, covering the grounds of the Mill Museum including the parking lot and adjacent Dugan Hall. This more intimate setting lets actors bring the drama to guests in a personal and memorable way, though it must be noted that actors do not touch the guests. A full tour of the skits takes about 50 minutes. The show is fully handicap-accessible. Content is meant to enlighten guests on some of history’s most notorious villains and is not recommended for children under 10. Please keep that in mind when planning to attend next year. DaytimeExhibit guests can walk through the scenes from the evening performances and learn in greater detail about each featured villain.
The Windham Textile and History Museum is located at 411 Main Street, Willimantic, CT. To contact the museum, go to millmuseum.org or call 860-456-2178.
A video of the 2019 Nightmare on Main: Villains live exhibit is available here.
2019 Nightmare on Main:
“Villains – Madness, Mayhem and Murder”
The Mill Museum holds its annual Hallowe’en-themed event, with live performances, spooky sets, and real history. More than 50 volunteers take you on a thrilling trip through the dark night museum. Learn about the infamous villains of the past, their crimes, and their victims. It features recreated historical scenes with actors playing roles. $12 per person admission. Not recommended for small children. While this years very successful Nightmare is over, visitors traveled through the Museum in groups of 8-10 persons. Groups enter at 15 minutes intervals, beginning at 7:00 PM and ending at 9:30. The entire tour takes 45-50 minutes.
Turn up you audio and enjoy these Nightmare video teasers: