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 Events Calendar 

Programs at The Barnum Museum

All programs held in the People's United Bank Gallery unless otherwise indicated.
The Gallery is located at the rear of The Barnum Museum, 820 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604


Envisioning the future! Exhibition 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.

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

Admission to Envisioning the Future! is free. Suggested donation amounts or nominal admission fees are charged for most programs; please refer to our calendar of events for details.

Directions are available here. Street parking is available. If you have any questions, please contact or call (203) 331-1104 x 100.

Spring 2015 Program Series at The Barnum Museum:

Animals in American Life: Pets, Performers, and Zoos

Beginning in March and continuing through May, The Barnum Museum will host an array of animal-themed programs that explore topics such as the history of pet ownership, the story of Jumbo the elephant and other 19th century elephants, the history of zoo-keeping, and Connecticut's own Beardsley Zoo. A portion of the program series is funded by a grant from Connecticut Humanities, a non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Please check this website for announcements regarding snow dates and weather-related closures.

Wednesday, March 4 at 12:15 p.m.
Victorian Pets: Curious Tales
presented by Adrienne Saint-Pierre, Curator of The Barnum Museum

This informal lunchtime program is a "show and tell" focused on pet-related artifacts from the museum's collection. Come learn about P. T. Barnum's amazing dog show at his American Museum; Queen Victoria's passion for pets; the Victorian-era fascination for memorializing pets (even to stuffing them); and the popularity of child-and-pet advertising images in the 19th century.

No registration required. $3 Suggested Donation. Free for museum members and kids under 12. Bring a brown bag lunch if you wish!


Sunday, March 22 at 2 p.m. (lecture begins at 2:15*)
Pets in America: A Surprising History by Dr. Katherine C. "Kasey" Grier, University of Delaware

Keeping animals as companions and for pleasure has been part of everyday life in America for longer than you may think! Today, pet ownership is the primary way that most Americans have contact with animals. Dr. Katherine C. Grier, author of Pets in America: A History, and the blog, The Pet Historian, will present an illustrated talk about the story of our lives with animals at home, including pets' evolving roles as beloved companions and as pastimes. She will also discuss the historical challenges pet owners faced such as population control, infectious disease and the reasons for the rise of organizations against animal cruelty. Dr. Grier is Professor of History at the University of Delaware, and curated the traveling exhibition, Pets in America (2007-2010).

*Preceding the lecture there will be a short presentation by the Co-Founder and Director of A Hand for A Paw, Inc. (AHFAP), Jimmy Gonzalez. This organization assists low-income pet owners with costs associated with owning an animal such as pet food and veterinarian services. People attending the program are asked, if they so chose, to bring a donation of pet food to help supply AHFAP's pet food pantry.

No registration required. $5 Suggested Donation. Free for museum members and kids under 12.

Tip McGinley and Pilot Nixon
(ca. 1907-1914)
W. J. Hudson's Dog Dixie
Taken in 1888
Both images, Collection of Katherine C. Grier


Wednesday, April 8 at 12:15 p.m.
Elephants in the Museum: Stories of Elephant Artifacts and Images in The Barnum Museum's Collection presented by Adrienne Saint-Pierre, Barnum Museum Curator

April's lunchtime Sneak Peek program focuses on a variety of elephant artifacts in The Barnum Museum collection. These include a piece of Barnum's "White Elephant" tusk, a beautiful color poster from the 1880s featuring performing elephants, a rare printed handkerchief depicting the life story of Jumbo, a color print created in honor of "Baby Bridgeport," the second elephant born in America, right here in Bridgeport, and more.

No registration required. $3 Suggested Donation. Free for museum members and kids under 12. Bring a brown bag lunch if you wish.


Sunday, April 19 at 2 p.m.
Jumbo: Marvel, Myth, and Mascot
by Dr. Andrew McClellan of Tufts University

In celebration of the arrival of Jumbo, the famous African Elephant, in America on April 9, 1882, this program will explore the fascinating story of the larger-than-life celebrity whom P. T. Barnum purchased from the London Zoo. His legacy lives on today: "jumbo" is now a common adjective used to describe anything very, very large. Jumbo's image has been used by many companies as a marketing tool, and at the height of his popularity all kinds of household objects were made with elephants in their design. Dr. Andrew McClellan, professor of Art History at Tufts University, will present an illustrated talk with rarely seen images relating to the great beast's life. Dr. McClellan is an expert on Jumbo, having recently curated the exhibition, Jumbo: Marvel, Myth and Mascot (2014), and authored an accompanying book by the same title.

No registration required. $5 Suggested Donation. Free for museum members and kids under 12.

Dr. Andrew McClellan
of Tufts University


Wednesday, May 13 at 12:15 pm.
Zoomobile!: Animals and Animal Artifacts
presented by Michelle Gaudreau, Beardsley Zoo Educator

This special Zoomobile program will bring small animals to the museum for an informal lunchtime "show and tell," designed to encourage your questions! Come learn about wild animals and animal conservation programs at the Beardsley Zoo, as well as what we discover by looking at animal "artifacts" like skulls and bones.

No registration required. $3 Suggested Donation. Free for museum members and kids under 12. Bring a brown bag lunch if you wish.


Sunday, May 17 at 2 pm.
Beardsley Zoo: A History of Land and Tigers
by Gregg Dancho, Executive Director, Beardsley Zoo

Did you know that Bridgeport's Beardsley Zoo is listed on the National Register of Historic Places? Discover the wonderful history of the park, designed by none other than Frederick Law Olmstead, landscape architect of New York's Central Park and many others. Learn about the park's transformation to becoming a full-fledged, professionally staffed zoo, Connecticut's one and only. Mr. Dancho will also discuss how zoo-keeping philosophies have changed over the years, as well as Beardsley Zoo's tiger program and efforts to ensure that the now rare species survives.

No registration required. $5 Suggested Donation. Free for museum members and kids under 12.


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–March 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




Please contact the Museum for Membership information at (203) 331-1104.

"The Noblest Art is that of Making Others Happy"
P.T. Barnum, 1891


The Barnum Museum | 820 Main Street | Bridgeport, CT 06604
phone: 203-331-1104 | fax: 203-331-0079
Executive Director/Curator:
Kathleen Maher

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