Museum Hours:

The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m on Thursdays and Fridays.

Please note that our historic Museum building is closed
due to storm damage from the F1 tornado that struck Bridgeport on June 24th, 2010. All exhibits are presented in the adjacent People's United Bank Gallery, at the rear of the historic building.

The Museum's permanent collection of P.T. Barnum and Tom Thumb artifacts, carriages, artwork, and decorative arts are on view in Envisioning the Future!, located in the People's United Bank Gallery. Be sure to see our astonishing new acquisition, The Centaur of Tymfi--you will be speechless!


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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! Consider conveniently joining today online! 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


    Sunday, September 14 at 2 p.m.
    Heroes of the Home Front
    presented by Matt Warshauer, PhD, Professor Department of History, Central Connecticut State University

    Professor Warshauer will address the struggles of a war-torn, politically charged Connecticut and how communities banded together to survive the conflict and preserve the nation. Barnum was an active voice for the Union and many astonishing issues concerning the Bridgeport community during the War of the Rebellion will be revealed. Warshauer is the author of three books, he is a specialist on 19th century political and constitutional history. His most recent book, "Connecticut in the American Civil War: Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival," is a riveting and eye opening account of the state's often turbulent history. Warshauer currently serves as co-chair of the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission and is helped to coordinate activities across Connecticut to focus on the importance and lasting legacies of the American Civil War and Connecticut's involvement in it during 2012. No registration required. $5 suggested donation and children under 12 are free.


    Wednesday, September 17 at 12:15 p.m.
    Skirting the Issue: Bridgeport-made Hoops Support 19th Century Gowns-Sneak Peek
    presented by Adrienne Saint-Pierre The Museum Curator

    For this month's informal lunchtime talk, Saint-Pierre will discuss and display hoopskirts and why they were an iconic fashion associated with the mid-1800s, especially during the Civil War Era when full-length skirts were at their widest. This Sneak Peek program will focus on one of early Bridgeport's major industries: the manufacturing of skirt hoops, or "cage crinolines" and the various patents for these products and components. Though people today might not think so, the invention of steel hoops was actually a "liberating" development in women's wear. Come learn about Bridgeport's supporting role in fashion while seeing examples of period underpinnings and gowns up close. No registration required. $3 suggested donation Visitors are encouraged to bring their lunch.

    A fashion plate from the early 1860s shows the extreme width of ball gowns, with their silk skirts supported by elliptical hoop skirts made of flexible watchspring steel. This print was published in the fashion magazine, Petit Courrier des Dames.
    With the invention of the cage crinoline or "hoop skirt" in 1856, Punch magazine quickly published this cartoon-like sketch to explain the mystery of the new fashion contraption. The cutaway view reveals the "cage" that ladies were now wearing, replacing the layers of petticoats previously required to support the full skirts.


    Barnum at the Discovery Museum



    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