Museum Hours:

Our Envisioning the Future! exhibit, featuring artifacts that belonged to P.T. Barnum, Tom Thumb and others, is open for viewing and exploration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m on Thursdays and Fridays. This exhibit is located in the People's United Bank Gallery adjacent to the historic building.

Throughout the Winter Season, please check this website for announcements regarding weather-related closures.

Please note that our historic Museum building is closed due to storm damage from the F1 tornado that struck Bridgeport on June 24th, 2010.

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Early 2015 programs will offer some fascinating opportunities

During February, The Barnum Museum is offering limited events. Check this website should weather concerns arise.

The museum's recently adopted new mission statement is: To inspire curiosity, creativity and confidence through instructive entertainment. The back exhibition hall of the museum is open for viewing and exploration on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features artifacts that belonged to P.T. Barnum, Tom Thumb and others. To learn more about The Barnum Museum's current programs visit our website often. You can also visit the museum on Facebook or communicate on Twitter @BarnumMuseum.

Sunday, February 8 at 2 pm - Snow date February 22
Five Things Everyone Should Know About the Native Archaeology of Connecticut

Presented by the Connecticut State Archaeologist, Dr. Brian Jones.

The museum maintains an early history of collecting in the 1880s and 1890s which includes Native American artifacts. Dr. Jones will talk about and illustrate some of the Native American archaeology sites in Connecticut.

Connecticut provides an important laboratory for the global study of human adaptation to changing social and natural environments. Five key topics stand out that everyone in Connecticut should understand about the past.

  • the colonization of an uninhabited Ice Age landscape
  • adaptation to post-glacial habitats
  • the development of formalized exchange networks
  • strategies for feeding a growing population
  • the development of politically complex societies.

An examination of these topics indicates that the archaeology of the state provides fertile ground for understanding not only Native American ways if living, but the social, economic and political challenges shared by many societies around the globe.

Brian Jones became Connecticut's State Archaeologist in July, 2014. Dr. Jones worked as an archaeologist since 1992 for AHS/PAST Inc., the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center and Archaeological Services at UMass Amherst. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology at UConn in 1998. Jones has a broad background in New England archaeology that spans the Paleoindian period through the industrial era. Jones has traveled extensively in Southeast Asia and lived and studied in Germany for three years. Jones lives in Glastonbury with his wife and two high school-aged children.

$5 suggested donation, members free.


Friday, February 13 - 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Side Show P.T. Barnum Style?

Kathleen Maher, Executive Director of The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport will share insight into the side show elements Barnum used so effectively during his years presenting the circus.

Location: Yale School of Art, 1156 Chapel St., New Haven, Room G32. This event is held as part of the school's Side Show exhibition. It is free and open to the public. Contact the Chapel Street Gallery for questions, parking suggestions or call 203-432-2600.

"Side Show is an exhibition investigating the intersection of fine art and the historical popular entertainment world of the carnival sideshow, in which the bodily display of the abnormal, human or animal, is the focus of each piece," explained Lisa Kereszi, Exhibit Curator at the Yale School of Art. "Sideshows existed just beyond or to the side of the mainstream carnival or circus midway, offering a spectacle of oddity in a makeshift tent. It would feature human oddities, "freaks," such as bearded women, the fat lady, the skeleton man, the conjoined, or 'Siamese' twins. Sideshows were a form of popular entertainment for the masses looking to forget their worries, cares, fears and problems.


Step right up and see the “Side Show”
at the Yale School of Art

The Yale School of Art (YSA) launches its 2015 season at the 32 Edgewood Avenue Gallery with “Side Show,” an exhibition devoted to the “believe it or not” world of the American sideshow, in which display of the abnormal and bizarre was the focus of the event.

On view January 13–Mar. 20, 2015
, the exhibition is free and open to the public Tuesdays–Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.

“Side Show” presents more than 70 works by 29 artists — including Diane Arbus, Otto Dix, John Waters, and Riva Lehrer — ranging from the mid-18th century to the present.

The show includes original sideshow banners, props, promotional cards, photographs, historical ephemera, and works of art inspired by circus and carnival culture from the Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG), Yale Medical School Library, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the International Center of Photography, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and private collections.

Poster | Press Release | Curator's Statement | Exhibition Related Programs


Dear Friends of The Barnum Museum,

What an extraordinary year 2014 has been! We have completed vision planning for the Museum's future exhibits with designers BRC Imagination Arts; restoration of the landmark building has begun; we have welcomed thousands of guests from all over the world to our many programs, tours and outreach events; we are launching a new exciting children's program; and we are thrilled to reinvigorate our membership family after a brief hiatus during disaster recovery. 2014 has truly been a year to celebrate!

With the holidays approaching, and the season of gift-giving upon us, I hope you will consider a tax-deductible gift to The Barnum Museum! Your gift will truly help us continue our work and bring inspiring new programs to all museum goers. The passion and enthusiastic encouragement of friends like you has inspired us to achieve wonderful things and bring a new and vibrant 21st century to life.

Our new Mission Statement is "To inspire curiosity, creativity and confidence through instructive entertainment."

We truly look forward to upholding these meaningful words and continue our service of giving joy and happiness to all.

Please think of the Museum during this holiday season and make a gift toward our continued efforts. You can also give a gift of membership to a loved one. Every contribution helps us move closer toward a vibrant restoration and reinvigorated Barnum Museum experience!

BRC Imagination Arts concept design for the future.

With sincere thanks and all best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season to you and your family!

Kathleen Maher,
Executive Director, The Barnum Museum

"The Noblest Art is that of Making Others Happy"
P.T. Barnum, 1886

Please make checks payable to The Barnum Museum, or contribute online below.
All contributions are tax deductible.


Barnum Museum: a state marvel in the making?
Connecticut Post | Phyllis A.S. Boros | 12/19/14

Anticipated to be completed in a few years, Bridgeport's "new" museum will be unlike anything ever seen in the Park City -- or, for that matter, in the whole of New England.

That's a bold prediction, but one that Kathleen Maher believes will be the case when the doors reopen -- perhaps by 2020 -- to the 1893 Barnum Museum, which was horribly damaged by a tornado in June 2010. ... Read More. Share on Facebook.


Jumbo: Marvel, Myth & Mascot
Presented by Tufts University
Featuring Andrew McClellan, Professor of Art History
Interim Chair of Romance Languages



We invite you to join us as a Vision Member
and be a part of The Barnum Museum's history

Dear Friends,

In 1889, P.T. Barnum wrote, "The Noblest Art Is That Of Making Others Happy." Although written 125 years ago, these words still underscore The Barnum Museum's vision and mission. As one of the longest ongoing museums in the nation, the museum remains true to P.T. Barnum's original mission; 'Instructive Entertainment.' For over a century, families from around the world have visited The Barnum Museum and experienced wonder, curiosity, surprise and enrichment. With exhibits ranging from a 4,000 year-old mummy to the recently acquired 'Centaur of Tymfi,' the Museum continues to amaze and enthrall guests of all ages.

Today, the Museum is emerging from damage sustained from a series of natural disasters and forging exciting plans for the future. We are thrilled to be working with BRC Imagination Arts (the award winning, world renowned exhibit designers) to create new and vibrant exhibits that offer learning through exploration, imagination, and innovation, stimulating the power of creativity and sparking intellectual curiosity!

We invite you to join us as a Vision Member and be a part of The Barnum Museum's history! As a Vision Member, you will have the opportunity to be enthralled by the wonderful and compelling stories of Barnum's glorious past, stories that will capture your imagination and create memories to last a lifetime.

Vision Member benefits include:

  • Free admission to Museum programs.
  • A complimentary copy of P.T. Barnum's famous book, The Art of Money Getting.
  • Member's Only" previews of new exhibitions & events.
  • Private Behind-the-Scenes Tours with the Curator.
  • Annual "Evening with the Director" soiree.
  • Invitation to the Annual Meeting & Reception.

I hope you will consider joining as a Vision Member, and become part of The Barnum Museum legacy. Please know how important Museum members are to our on-going objective to offer enriching programs! Simply click here and conveniently join today! As you consider your membership, please also consider giving an extra gift in support of the Museum's continuing programs, or give a gift membership to a friend or family member. As always, your contribution is tax-deductible.

On behalf of The Barnum Museum, I sincerely thank you for your kindness and support, and we look forward to serving you with enriching experiences!

With much Gratitude,
Kathleen Maher
Executive Director


Donate now to help the Barnum Museum Recovery!

The historic structure of The Barnum Museum has been closed to the public since a tornado struck the City of Bridgeport on June 24, 2010 without warning and caused major damage to the building. The Museum's modern wing, People's United Bank Gallery, is open on a limited schedule: Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and for programs and lectures at other times.

You can help sustain this legacy of P. T. Barnum by donating to the Museum's restoration fund.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the unique 1893 landmark is the only remaining structure in the country that is directly related to the great showman and icon of American entertainment history. Thank you for your generosity!

Please visit our Virtual Barnum Museum for Exhibits & Collection Videos!


The Barnum Museum | 820 Main Street Bridgeport, CT 06604 | phone: 203-331-1104 | fax: 203-331-0079


Images owned by The Barnum Museum, Bridgeport, CT.  ©The Barnum Museum - All Rights Reserved

Made possible in part by the
Fairfield County Community Foundation