Guide to Visiting
After temporarily closing its doors, The Mark Twain Houses & Museum is now open to the public. The Museum will operate at a reduced capacity while enacting new safety measures, including advanced online ticket purchases, social distancing guidelines throughout the museum center and historic house, and enhanced sanitizing and cleaning protocols.
To help ensure public safety and avoid crowds, timed ticket purchases will be required. During the initial phase of reopening, we require that visitors purchase tickets online or over the phone in advance for a touchless transaction. Tickets are now available for advanced purchase here.
While we are grateful to return to what Mark Twain called “the loveliest home that ever was,” our priority is the health and safety of our visitors, our local community, and our entire Museum staff. Over the past weeks, we’ve carefully developed reopening guidelines in accordance with state guidelines, directives from the CDC, and museum best practices. Our Operations staff have also worked hard to gather necessary safety supplies, including masks, gloves, plexiglass sneeze guards, sanitizing stations, and directional signage and distance markers. These new procedures will ensure we’re meeting the highest public health standards, while maintaining the excellence of the visitor experience.
During the initial phase of reopening, some exhibits and experiences will not be available. While our exhibit spaces in the Webster Bank Museum Center are closed for the time being, we will continue to show our 23-minute film Mark Twain, by Ken Burns, and the Mark Twain Gift Shop will be open to controlled, one-way traffic to allow for social distance. The Nook Cafe will open for service, and tables will be assembled so that guests can eat at a proper distance. Guided tour capacity will be limited to 5 guests and 1 guide to allow for social distance between visitors in every room of the house.
Cleaning will be enhanced throughout the Museum, including increased frequency of disinfecting high-traffic surfaces. Hand sanitizer stations will also be available across the Museum’s campus. In accordance with state guidelines, the Museum’s staff and volunteers, as well as all visitors, will be required to wear face coverings during the initial reopening phase; complimentary masks will be provided for all guests who need one. As recommended by state officials, individuals over the age of 65 or with other health conditions may wish to delay their visit to a later phase of Connecticut’s reopening, and enjoy our digital offerings from home.Purchase Tickets
During the initial reopening phase, The Mark Twain House & Museum is asking campus visitors to be aware of and to adhere to the following guidelines:
- The house is shown only by guided tour and advanced reservations are required. Tickets should be purchased online or over the phone prior to arrival.
- All visitors and staff are required to wear a face mask on our site. If you do not bring a mask, one will be provided to you. Masks must cover mouth and nose, and be worn at all times.
- Tours of the house are guided and timed. Please do not arrive more than 30 minutes prior to the tour time printed on your ticket. That half hour will allow you time to watch our 23-minute film, Mark Twain, by Ken Burns, shop in the Mark Twain Store, or grab a snack in the Nook Farm Cafe. You can expect your entire visit to last about one hour and 45 minutes. Due to distancing guidelines required for opening during the COVID-19 pandemic our two additional exhibit spaces are closed.
- The tour may last up to an hour in an enclosed space, and the house has 3 floors. Tour capacity is limited to allow for six feet of distance between parties in the historic house. Large parties of seven or more people should contact us to make special arrangements.
- Please social distance when you are on the Museum’s campus—maintain a minimum distance of six feet from those outside your party. Please follow all directional signs and distance markers.
- The gift shop is operating with one-way traffic and will allow a small number of customers in at a time.
- Hand sanitizer stations are positioned around campus. Please use them and the washing stations in our public restrooms.
- Coat and bag check are temporarily unavailable; please only bring smaller items you can carry around campus during your visit.
- If anyone in your party is experiencing fever, cough, or shortness of breath, you should postpone your visit to a later date. The museum will offer a refund or exchange your tickets at no cost to you. Call us at 860-280-3130 to make arrangements.
- For the safety of our visitors, staff, and volunteers, we may close for health & safety purposes, or due to inclement weather. For up to date information on any cancellations or delays: 860-247-0998 (select option 8)
- By visiting The Mark Twain House and Museum, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.
To begin your visit
Our parking lot for visitors is located at 385 Farmington Avenue, Hartford CT, 06105. To start your visit, enter the museum center adjacent to the parking lot via the stairs, or the wheelchair accessible ramp, which can be found immediately to the right of the staircase.
Our site is made up of three buildings.
The Webster Bank Museum Center at the Mark Twain House & Museum is always your first and last stop as it houses our ticket counter, museum store, film, and café. All tours gather in the museum center before heading over to Mark Twain’s historic 1874 home. Any visit will include a short walk outdoors, between buildings. Paths around these buildings are made of stone and gravel that can be uneven and slippery in some weather. Mark Twain’s historic carriage house is the third building on our property, but is generally not open to the public. The hayloft has been repurposed into offices and the main floor of the barn is a space available for rent for parties and meetings. See more about Facility Rentals here.
The House Tour has a LOT of stairs and no elevator.
The Mark Twain House is three floors with 41 stairs up to the billiard room and 40 stairs back down to the kitchen. The first floor of the historic structure is wheelchair accessible. The Webster Bank Museum Center at the Mark Twain House & museum is fully wheelchair accessible. For more details about accessibility, click here.
Tours may not be suitable for some very young children.
We are asking all our guests to wear a mask and practice physical distancing. If you have a child under 2 years old we do not recommend visiting the museum at this time. Children between the ages of 2 and 6 are certainly welcome on the hour-long tour; in fact, they get in free! However, a parent with a loud or disruptive child may be asked to leave the tour if the noise is detracting from the experience for others. We are happy to refund the money of any parent who needs to step out to care for a young child. The Living History and Graveyard Shift Ghost tours are not recommended for children younger than 10. We encourage parents use their discretion on whether a tour is right for their child.
Cell Phones and Photography
We ask visitors to turn off cell phones while on the guided tour.
Thank you for not taking photographs in our historic house. Our photography policy is in place for the safety of our visitors and the safety of our exceptional collections for future generations to enjoy.
We do not allow photography or videography while on tour of the Mark Twain House for several reasons:
- Flash photography is damaging to artifacts, especially textiles and paper.
- Some artifacts on display are on loan from institutions whose loan contracts require that their object not be photographed for proprietary reasons.
- Photography is distracting for other visitors.
- It is easy to trip or bump into an artifact when looking though a lens or at your cell-phone screen. Please respect our mission for preservation and our concern for your own personal safety.We welcome you to enjoy taking as many photographs of the exterior of the house as you like. As part of our special Living History tours, visitors are allowed to take photographs in the basement of the house.
Postcards with images of the interiors of the house are available for purchase in our gift shop, as is our pictorial guide to the house, The Loveliest Home That Ever Was by Steve Courtney, which includes stunning interior views by photographer John Groo.
From Springfield and Points North
Take I-91 South to I-84 West in Hartford. Take Exit 46, Sisson Avenue. At the traffic light, turn right (north) onto Sisson. Continue four blocks to the end of Sisson Avenue. At the traffic light, turn right (east) onto Farmington Avenue. Continue three blocks (approximately 2/10 mile) on Farmington and look for the sign on the right at the entrance to the museum’s free parking lot. Note: The entrance to the parking lot is one block before The Mark Twain House.
From New York City, New Haven, and Points South
Take I-91 North to I-84 West in Hartford. Take Exit 46, Sisson Avenue. At the traffic light, turn right (north) onto Sisson. Continue four blocks to the end of Sisson Avenue. At the traffic light, turn right (east) onto Farmington Avenue. Continue three blocks (approximately 2/10 mile) on Farmington and look for the sign on the right at the entrance to the museum’s free parking lot. Note: The entrance to the parking lot is one block before The Mark Twain House.
From Waterbury and Points West
Take I-84 East to Hartford; take Exit 46, Sisson Avenue. At the traffic light, turn right onto Sisson. Continue four blocks to the end of Sisson Avenue. At the traffic light, turn right (east) onto Farmington Avenue. Continue three blocks (approximately 2/10 mile) on Farmington and look for the sign on the right at the entrance to the museum’s free parking lot. Note: The entrance to the parking lot is one block before The Mark Twain House.
From Boston and Points East
Take I-84 West to Hartford; take Exit 46, Sisson Avenue. At the traffic light, turn right onto Sisson. Continue four blocks to the end of Sisson Avenue. At the traffic light, turn right (east) onto Farmington Avenue. Continue three blocks (approximately 2/10 mile) on Farmington and look for the sign on the right at the entrance to the museum’s free parking lot. Note: The entrance to the parking lot is one block before The Mark Twain House.
For Passengers with Limited Mobility
Follow the above directions, but continue east on Farmington Avenue and go past the Mark Twain House. Take your first right onto Forest Street and look for the sign on the right for the entrance to the Museum Center’s rear parking lot at 65 Forest Street.
Arriving by Bus
CT Transit buses 60, 62, 64, and 66 connect The Mark Twain House & Museum with downtown Hartford and West Hartford Center. A transit shelter is located adjacent to the museum at Farmington Avenue and Woodland Street.
There is ample FREE parking for cars and buses in our Farmington Avenue lot and an additional smaller lot off Forest Street. Set your GPS for 385 Farmington Avenue, Hartford to find our main parking lot entrance or to 65 Forest Street for the smaller lot. Please note that the parking lot entrance is located a few hundred feet to the west of the Mark Twain House itself.Directions to our parking lot
The first floor of The Mark Twain House is wheelchair accessible, but guests must be able to negotiate three flights of stairs for the complete tour. The Museum Center is fully wheelchair accessible. ASL Interpretation can be arranged with advance notice. To arrange tours for visitors with special needs call (860) 247-0998, ext. 130.