Barnum Museum pays tribute to our dear friend, Mr. William (Bill) Brinley who
passed away September 11, 2016 at the age of 99.
Known for his magnificent
"Brinley's Miniature Circus" model that graced the 3rd floor of the
Museum from 1968 until it was damaged by the 2010 tornado, (have no fear, the
miniature circus model is undergoing conservation to restore it back to its original
glory), the miniature circus has been one of Fairfield County's greatest attractions.
Hundreds of thousands of guests have marveled and enjoyed its splendor over many
We are so grateful to Mr. Brinley and his family for sharing
this important and wondrous legacy with us, and we are honored to continue our
interpretation of circus history though Mr. Brinley's gift.
10, 2016 - Kathy Maher, Executive Director of Bridgeport's historic Barnum
Museum has been re-appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to the Connecticut Historic
The Council, founded in
1955, includes 12 members who advise the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)
on critical historic preservation issues.
said in accepting her appointment, "I am thrilled to continue my service
to the citizens of Connecticut and safeguard the unique buildings, sites, landscapes
and districts that compose the cultural heritage of the state". "While
I am entrusted with protecting and ensuring the future of the great, historical
Barnum Museum", she said, "it is so important to the citizens of Connecticut
that all National Historic Landmarks, those on the State and National Register
of Historic Places and Municipal Historic Districts are protected, cherished and
celebrated now and for future generations.".... Click
for full Press Release.
14, 2016 - The Barnum Museum's restoration effort in Bridgeport was boosted
recently by a $500,000 grant in aid from the State Bond Commission. At the July
12th bonding hearing the Office of Policy and Management, through the Department
of Economic and Community Development, made the money available for the museum's
architectural drawings. The drawings will be used for the museum's dome stabilization
work and for the comprehensive restoration of the entire national landmark structure,
which was damaged by a recent tornado and two succeeding hurricanes.
to right: Steve Tyliszczak, Governor Dannel Malloy, Kathleen Maher
Director Kathleen Maher said, "The Barnum Museum extends its thanks to the
Office of Governor Malloy and the entire Bridgeport delegation who works tirelessly
on behalf of the Bridgeport community. We are truly grateful for their dedication
and for being extraordinary champions for this great city and for the continued
revitalization of the historic Barnum Museum."
of the State of Connecticut Office of Policy and Management during a site visit
to the Barnum Museum. Barnum Museum Historic Preservation Architect and Engineers
are in attendance to inspect the major structural concerns of the landmark building
from multiple natural disaster impacts over recent years.
May 24, 2016 - Next year
marks the 100th Anniversary of this country's entry into World War One. In an
effort to help preserve this significant part of our history, the Barnum Museum
in Bridgeport will be assisting the Connecticut State Library in gathering old
photos, documents, mementoes and other materials from the war to digitize them
and preserve them in the Connecticut Digital Archives. On Tuesday May 24th
from 11:00am until 3:00pm, area residents can bring in their photos, letters and
other keepsakes to have them made in to digital copies, safely and easily. ...
was heavily involved in manufacturing munitions and arms even before the U.S.
entered the war. Do you have ancestors who worked in the factories? Credit: Connecticut
Digital Newspaper Project
need not be Connecticut-related. This photograph from Washington, D.C. shows soldiers
returning from the war. Credit: Library of Congress
Maher, Executive Director of The Barnum Museum, presents "The Divine
On Saturday, March 19, 2016 At the Ringling
Museum of Art Historic Asolo Theater in Sarasota, Florida
Museum People, a NEMA (New England Museum Association)-produced podcast that celebrates
individuals connected with the museum field by highlighting their work, passions,
opinions, and personalities. Download Podccast Episode Eight: Barnum Museum Executive
Director Kathy Maher tells what its like to recover from multiple disasters
of biblical proportions: Episode
In short order
for The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport beginning June 24, 2010, the red stone and
terra cotta landmark was the victim of a tornado that homed in like the museum
had a bulls-eye on it. That was followed by hurricane Irene and Superstorm
Piling on the injuries, the museums
20,000 artifacts many of them paper were in danger of the same fate
as Tom Thumbs carriage, which is now restored, but which was ravaged to
the point of destruction by the uncontrolled humidity that accompanied the more
explosive weather damage.
To date, $3.8 million
has been spent salvaging artifacts and shoring up the building.
would seem the sort of karmic pile-up to send a responsible person searching for
cover or even for the egress, P.T. Barnums famous exit sign.
so in the case of Alice Ferreira, who was named chairwoman of The Barnum Museum
board of directors in January. ... Read
of the Samurai Box Revealed ... With an audience of 300 curious onlookers,
the Barnum Museum, assisted by Yale Peabody Museum staff, revealed for the first
time the contents of a samurai armor box in the museum collection. (Program on
Barnum Museum Names Alice Ferreira Chairperson of the Board
6, 2015 - The Barnum Museum has named Alice Ferreira chairman of the board of
directors of The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Conn.
board member since 2009, she recently served as Secretary for the Museum. She
is currently a vice president for corporate communications for UnitedHealth Group,
a Fortune 14 company.
was the ultimate strategic publicist and a bold and innovative leader and we have
much to learn about him and from him. His enduring legacy continues to inspire
people to tap into their personal power of creativity and imagination, "
she said. " We look forward to keeping his spirit, lessons and stories alive
for generations to come."
"We are at
a crucial point in our history, ready to re-emerge as a center for creativity
and inspiration and a major cultural destination. We are embarking on a re-imagining
of the Museum, and there is no better time to be at the forefront of an organization
that will have a lasting impact on everyone in our community, our country and
the world," said executive director Kathy Maher. ... Read
The spectacular helmet and two partial face
masks, along with the red leather covered box gilded with the Matsumae family
crest, are included in the exhibition, Samurai and the Culture of Japan's Great
Peace. They will be displayed through January 3, 2016, when the exhibition closes.
A lively video production of the program,
in which the contents of the box were revealed to the public by a team of experts,
is currently in production and will be included on the Barnum Museum's web site
by early January. Stay tuned!
What an extraordinary
time it 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.
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.
new Mission Statement is "To inspire curiosity, creativity and confidence
through instructive entertainment."
truly look forward to upholding these meaningful words and continue our service
of giving joy and happiness to all.
of the Museum 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.
Maher, Executive Director, The Barnum Museum
Noblest Art is that of Making Others Happy" P.T. Barnum, 1886
make checks payable to The Barnum Museum, or contribute online below. All
contributions are tax deductible.
Museum Awarded Grant to Film Unveiling of Unusual Artifact
Barnum Museum will reveal the contents of this unusual box on Saturday, Nov. 7th
at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.
grant of $9,995 awarded to The Barnum Museum by Connecticut Humanities will enable
the museum to present a public program on Nov. 7 in which a rare and unusual artifact,
in storage for decades, will be revealed for the first time and thoroughly examined
by a team of experts as it is filmed by Firelight Media Group, LLC, of Monroe,
The Barnum Museum has partnered with the
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Conn. to present the program
during their current special exhibition, also funded in part by Connecticut Humanities.
Experts from Yale University and The Barnum Museum's Curator will be talking with
the audience about what they discover. The program will take place on Saturday,
November 7, 2015 in the Great Hall at the Yale Peabody Museum.
"We are thrilled to have such a perfect opportunity to
finally learn about a rare artifact which has been in our collection for a number
of years but never examined," said Kathleen Maher, Executive Director of
The Barnum Museum. "It is an honor and pleasure to be working with the staff
of the Yale Peabody Museum to present this public program, tapping into the expertise
of the curatorial and conservation team." ... Read
Barnum Museum was established in 1893 by P.T. Barnum and is listed on the National
Register of Historic Places. On June 24, 2010, the building was struck by an EF1
tornado that significantly damaged it as well as thousands of irreplaceable artifacts.
the museum has become a model for disaster recovery; it must now become a living,
breathing symbol of rejuvenation and renewal in the face of adversity.
disaster-related setbacks, the museum is forging ahead with plans for the future.
Working with BRC Imagination Arts (the award-winning, world-renowned exhibit designers)
the museum is creating new and vibrant exhibits that offer learning through exploration,
imagination and innovation, stimulating the power of creativity and sparking intellectual
curiosity. ... Read
once an integral part of the Barnum Festival, the American Jenny Lind competition
for sopranos and subsequent concert with her Swedish counterpart is no more.
Linds memory is as strong as ever at the Barnum Museum, which has arranged
to have the Swedish Jenny Lind conclude an annual tour of North America with a
concert in Bridgeport. ... Read
great article on Connecticut Historical Society's new exhibit telling Connecticut
history through 50 objects - of course P.T. Barnum is included! Click
through the photographs to see a lithograph in the collection of The Barnum
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.
can help sustain this legacy of P. T. Barnum by donating to the Museum's restoration
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!
Post -- Most property owners would faint if three large, heavy steel girders were
brought in through an upstairs window and then lifted into the attic.
something like that at the downtown Barnum Museum -- home of a real mummy, a fake
mermaid and enough circus equipment to fill three Big Top rings -- was almost
business as usual on Friday. ... Read
a project P.T. Barnum would be proud of, mostly because its a project designed
to repair the famed Barnum Museum.
sustaining major damage in the EF-1 tornado in June of 2010 and then the subsequent
impact from Tropical Storm Irene and Super Storm Sandy, the Barnum Museum brought
in the heavy machinery in hopes of one day re-opening. Due to the damages, the
museum has been closed nearly five years. ... Read
Regional Business Council's Leadership Greater Bridgeport Unveils Skybox
at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard in the Spirit of the Barnum Museum
16, 2015 -Leadership Greater Bridgeport, an affiliate of the Bridgeport Regional
Business Council, (LGB), will unveil the newly designed skybox at The Ballpark
at Harbor Yard in the spirit of the Barnum Museu. ... more
in American Life: Pets, Performers, and Zoos
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
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
Marvel, Myth & Mascot Presented by Tufts University Featuring
Andrew McClellan, Professor of Art History Interim Chair of Romance Languages September
2014 - The Barnum Museum Update - 4 years since June 24, 2010 Tornado - by Kathy
Maher, Executive Director of The Barnum Museum
The historic restoration
of the Barnum Museum is still underway from the massive damage of an F1 tornado,
which struck Bridgeport on June 24, 2010. The Museum continues to conserve many
of the artifacts that were damaged including paintings, furniture, Lavinia Warren's
(wife of Tom Thumb) dress form and the miniature circus. A number of marble and
metal statues, Tom Thumb carriages, furniture, costume, books, documents, and
many small artifacts have already been restored and are on display in the People's
United Bank back gallery at 820 Main Street.
As the museum continues
to raise the millions of dollars needed for the full restoration of the historic
landmark, The Barnum Museum is developing a re-envisioning plan for a revitalized
guest experience with new exhibits and educational programs.
People's United Bank Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays
and Saturdays until August 30, and during event times. The Gallery also showcases
The Lost and Found Circus, the Museum's most recent artifact, the Centaur. The
museum is offering many educational programs throughout the summer so check
this page for updates. The historic portion of the museum remains closed during
restoration. No date for complete re-opening can be confirmed at this time.
Barnum Museum Receives a $15k Grant from the Fairfield County Community Foundation
laying the foundation for its new vision.
16, 2014 - The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport is pleased to announce it has received
a $15,000 grant from the Fairfield
County Community Foundation (www.fccfoundation.org). The funds will be used
to conduct a planning and feasibility study to help the museum respond to the
catastrophic storms that have challenged the museum over the past three years
and lay the foundation for creating an innovative, living museum that will become
a national destination and a fitting tribute to PT Barnum. ... Read
-- Friend or foe, beast or brother, alien or human?
were the questions swirling around the People's United Bank Gallery on Tuesday,
moments before Barnum Museum Executive Director Kathleen Maher slid back the drapes
to reveal the newest "curiosity" to take up residency here.
the moment of truth arrived -- riding a crest of anticipation -- a chorus of oohhs
and aahhs from the 50 or so amazed attendees followed.
was a fitting reaction since the ancient skeleton -- displayed in a huge, glass
case -- could change the course of history. ... Full
with permission | Credit to Hearst Connecticut Media Group
2013 - The Barnum Museum recently received a competitive award from the National
Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Preservation and Access Division. The NEH is
an independent, federal agency of the United States that awards grants supporting
humanities-based projects in cultural institutions in a wide range of categories.
The Barnum Museum is the recipient of a Humanities Collections and Reference Resources
(HCRR) grant, a type that supports the essential underpinnings for scholarship,
education and public programming in the humanities. ... more
Barnum Festival Jenny Lind, Kathryn Bowden and 2013 Barnum Festival Ringmaster,
Bowden of Glastonbury CT wins the American Jenny Lind Competition in Bridgeport
65th Annual Jenny Lind competition took place on Saturday, May 18, at the Recital
Hall of the Arnold Bernhard Center, 126 Park Avenue, on the campus of the University
of Bridgeport. A Connecticut winner, Kathryn Bowden from Glastonbury and a graduate
of the University of Connecticut was crowned the American Jenny Lind winner for
2013. She was a member of the Chataqua Opera program in the summer of 2012. She
is actively pursuing a career in opera at this time.
Lind title includes a $2,000 cash prize and the winner will perform a joint concert
with her counterpart, the Swedish Jenny Lind, at the historic Bijou Theatre in
Downtown Bridgeport on June 27 at 7:30 p.m. This annual event is sponsored by
the Barnum Festival with support from theNorden Club. ... more
Connecticut Post, March 6, 2013 -- When P.T.
Barnum built his famous mansions and museums, the great showman spared no expense
to ensure a modern, over-the-top experience that would incite curiosity.
Maher, curator and executive director of the Barnum Museum, hopes to replicate
that excitement more than a century later when the museum eventually reopens --
albeit with a more reserved budget. ... read
Hall of Fame Award presented to Kathy Maher, Executive Director and Curator of
the Barnum Museum on behalf of PT Barnum's Family by Ron Gustafson, Chair of the
IAAPA Hall of Fame Awards Committee and Public Relations & Educational Programs
Director for Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury CT
Barnum Museum is delighted to be participating in a major exhibition Circus
And The City, curated by Bard Graduate Center in New York.
with Bard for three years with planning, discussions and logistics, The Barnum
Museum lent an number of extraordinary objects from our collection including;
P.T. Barnum's 1829 Top Hat, Tom Thumb's c. 1844-1850 Court Suit, Jumbo Promotional
Handkerchief, Tickets, Barnum & Bailey and American Musuem Posters. Our thanks
to our friends at Bard for opening such an exceptional presentation!
and the City: New York 1793-2010" runs through Feb. 3 at the Bard Graduate
Center Galleries, 18 West 86th Street, Manhattan; (212) 501-3023, bgc.bard.edu/gallery.
September 18, 2012, at The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport CT, Quinnipiac University
professors Jerry Conlogue and Ron Beckett used a portable X-ray system from Kubtec
to uncover some damage inside the plaster cast bust of P.T. Barnum created by
Thomas Ball in the 1880s.
These X-ray images revealed a sub-surface crack
on the nose of the bust. No visible damage could be seen on the outside. Quinnipiac
University has had Kubtec's Kubscan CR scanner for two weeks and the professors
were testing it at the museum to make sure it worked properly before they take
it to Ecuador in January to study many mummies. Kubtec is a Milford CT based manufacturer
of digital imaging products, so representatives from the firm were on hand to
also make sure it was functioning properly. ... Read
Barnum Museum has been completely closed to the general public since January 2011
and the historic portion closed ever since the June 24, 2010 tornado hit Bridgeport.
A unique exhibition called Recovery in Action is now being presented
on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the People's United Bank Gallery
In an authoritative
biography of Barnum, author Neil Harris, professor of history at the University
of Chicago, describes the culture and climate of America in the 19th century that
produced such an outsized, and sometimes outrageous, figure. ... View
Many in large part place credit for Bridgeport's visual arts renaissance at the
attractive feet of five dynamic, tireless individuals who believe they are on
an important mission. All are women -- and none live in Bridgeport. Their names
are familiar to artists and hard-core arts lovers, who consider them Bridgeport's
arts doyennes. Beyond that circle, their names are perhaps less known. Yet these
women are helping to shape the "new" Bridgeport, creating events to
draw visitors downtown. They are the force behind the development of special events,
such as the annual Bridgeport Art Trail.
Their names: Eileen Walsh, Kathleen
Maher, Robbin Zella, Suzanne Kachmar and Marianne Brunson Frisch. ... Read
you to think of the half-dozen most enduring figures in Connecticut history, P.T.
Barnum would have to be on the list.
"world's greatest showman" created the circus that became the Ringling
Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, among many other entertainment ventures.
He also served as mayor of Bridgeport, the city where he spent much of his life
(he was born in Bethel). He is remembered in the Park City with a one-of-a-kind
museum in an eclectic building that Mr. Barnum initiated. ...
historic renovations to sites including the Statue of Liberty and the US Capital
dome in Washington, D.C., Swanke Hayden Connell Architects has been awarded the
contract to help restore Bridgeport's Barnum Museum, which suffered significant
damage during a tornado that struck the Park City on June 24, 2010. ... more
& to view video.
took P.T. Barnum years to overcome the loss of his wealth and first mansion, the
Iranistan, in 1856.
The tragedies did nothing
to deter the showman, though, who went on to bigger and better things, including
the creation of his famous traveling circus and the construction of three more
Now, more than 150 years later, Kathy
Maher, curator of the Barnum Museum, is hoping for a similar, albeit, quicker,
rebirth of the 120-year-old national landmark after the extensive damage caused
by a tornado that tore through the city last June.
announced on Friday the hiring of Swanke Hayden Connell Architects, of New York,
to restore the museum, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Read
2011 - The Barnum Museum has been awarded $40,000 from the Fairfield County Community
Foundation (FCCF) to be used to match a $100,000 Endangered Building Grant received
from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. This grant was awarded
in the fall of 2010 to assist with an extensive architectural review necessary
to determine the full scope of the museum's structural damage which occurred during
the June 24, 2010 tornado in Bridgeport CT ... more
expert Visual Merchandising team from Macy's stores in Connecticut was at the
Barnum Museum on Thursday, Dec. 9. doing what they do best, creating an ambiance
in celebration of the holiday spirit for the huge plate glass windows fronting
Main Street in downtown Bridgeport...More.
BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY® CONTRIBUTES $10,000 TO THE BARNUM MUSEUM
IN HONOR OF P.T. BARNUM'S 200TH BIRTHDAY
Entertainment, Inc., producers of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®
presented The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut with a contribution of
$10,000 in honor of Phineas Taylor Barnum's 200th birthday. The funds will help
support the museum's continued preservation and restoration efforts of the famed
showman's papers, unique curiosities and artifacts...more
Museum's tornado damage could exceed $6 million Keila Torres, Staff Writer
Post -- After further assessments of the June 24 tornado's devastating aftermath,
staff at the Barnum Museum discovered structural damages to the historic Main
Street structure are substantially higher than the $2.4 million estimate submitted
to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
probably exceeding $6 million at this time," said Kathleen Maher, executive
director and curator of the museum, one of Bridgeport's signature cultural institutions.
"A lot of it was revealed after FEMA came."... Full
CT - July 16, 2010)- The Barnum Museum announced today that they have been awarded
a $1,500 grant from the Fairfield County Community Foundation's Financial Management
Assistance Fund to assist with the financial and operational management at the
The Fairfield County
Community Foundation (FCCF) announced today an award of $20,000 to The Barnum
Museum. The grant will be used to support the museum's general operating budget
and comes right when it is needed the most to continue programming, maintain the
landmark building and help support administrative and marketing expenses.
Fairfield County Community Foundation promotes the growth of community and regional
philanthropy to improve the quality of life throughout Fairfield County. Individuals,
families, corporations and organizations can establish charitable funds and contribute
to existing funds. The Foundation also provides philanthropic advisory services,
and develops and leads initiatives to tackle critical community issues. For more
information, visit www.fccfoundation.org
here for our press release.
last remains of Barnum's mansions By Tony Spinelli Staff
writer Posted: 03/02/2009 03:05:33 PM EST
CT Post -A
drive along Clinton Avenue in Bridgeport reveals dozens of fine, large, old homes
that in the 1800s were the not-so-humble abodes of some wealthy and substantial
And the most splendid "show homes" of all
those in the West End neighborhood were those owned by Bridgeport's most famous
resident, Phineas Taylor Barnum.
As one of the country's first
19th century self-made millionaires, P.T. Barnum built himself four magnificent
homes in the city.
you add up the attendance for every major-league baseball, basketball, football
and hockey game this year, the combined total will come to about 140 million people.
That's a big number, but it's barely a fraction of the number of people who will
visit American museums this year.
are big business, attracting billions of tourist dollars, advancing science, and
educating and amusing more than 850 million people annually.
are often thought of as nice amenities," says Ford Bell, head of the American
Association of Museums. "People don't think about museums as being a critical
piece in our educational infrastructure in this country." More
Published in The Bridgeport
News - Thursday, October 02, 2008
Hampton Hotels Save-A-Landmark
program has begun an initiative to help physically improve the Barnum Museum. The
company donated $40,000 to the museum and organized a group of local hotel employees
to join a one-day volunteer restoration effort at the downtown cultural landmark.
than 30 volunteers from local Hampton Hotels spent about 150 hours at the museum...more
The Boston Globe: Nestled between the intellectual pretensions of New Haven
and the hedge-fund haughtiness of the Gold Coast, Bridgeport is a down-to-earth,
ethnically rich community that also happens to be the biggest city in Connecticut...more
The New York Times - Arts Section By JOHN STRAUSBAUGH - Published:
Weekend Explorer: When Barnum Took Manhattan
Today New Yorkers may think of Phineas Taylor Barnum only
when the circus comes to town. But for almost 60 years he was one of the most
celebrated figures in the city. He entertained and amused tens of millions here.
When he died in 1891, The Washington Post called him the most widely known
American that ever lived.... Link
to Full Article