Our Mission: To Inspire curiosity, creativity and confidence through instructive entertainment


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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Spring Program Series at The Barnum Museum:
Animals in American Life: Pets, Performers, and Zoos

Animals Love Spring and The Barnum Museum will be honoring them

Beginning in March and continuing throughout May, The Barnum Museum will be hosting an array of animal focused family-friendly programs with the theme for the Spring series being: Animals in American Life: Pets, Performers, and Zoos. All the programs relating to animals are funded by a Spring grant from the State of Connecticut Humanities department.

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

Wednesday, March 4 at 12:15 p.m.
Victorian Pets: Arts and Artifacts in The Barnum Museum Collection, Sneak Peek
presented by Adrienne Saint-Pierre, Curator for The Barnum Museum

An informative Sneak Peek program designed to teach you about pet stories of the past. Includes objects found in the Museum's own collection. Learn about Victorian-era pet artwork, the 1880's trend of pet stuffing, pet post cards, P.T. Barnum's dazzling dog shows and more.

No registration required. $3 Suggested Donation. Free for museum members and kids under 12. Patrons are encouraged to bring their lunch.


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

Today 62% of U.S. households have at lest one pet. Listen as Dr. Kasey Grier informs you of the evolution of domesticated pets as they became loved companions and members of households across America. Keeping animals as companions and for pleasure has been part of everyday life in America for hundreds of years. Katherine C. Grier, author of Pets in America: A History, and the blog, The Pet Historian, will tell the story of our lives with animals at home, including pets' evolving roles as both beloved companions and pastimes. She will also discuss previous challenges pet owners may have faced such as population control, infectious disease and the rise of organizations against animal cruelty.

*Preceding the lecture will be a short presentation by the Founder and Director of A Hand for A Paw, Inc. (AHFAP), Jimmy Gonzalez. This organization assists low-income pet owners with fees 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.


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

April's Sneak Peek program focuses on the large variety of elephant artifacts in The Barnum Museum collection in celebration of the past event of Jumbo, the famous African Elephant, arriving in America after being purchased from London Zoo by P.T. Barnum on April 9,1882. Some artifacts include the largest taxidermy baby elephant, "Baby Bridgeport," the second elephant to ever be born in America was in Bridgeport, CT many years ago. A piece of famous white elephant tusk in the museum collection and a number of photographs featuring Victorian era elephants in photographs, post cards and advertising will be on display at the event. "Baby Bridgeport" was recently x-rayed by medical imaging faculty from Quinnipiac University. In the 1880s a color lithograph and handkerchief were created to celebrate the elephant's birth, Barnum's pride and joy.

No registration required. $3 Suggested Donation. Free for museum members and kids under 12. Patrons are encouraged to bring their lunch.


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

This program explores the magnificent life of the late Jumbo The Elephant, a larger-than-life celebrity in the animal world. His legacy lives on today- "jumbo" is now an English adjective used to describe anything humungous. His image is also featured in many advertisements throughout the past, and a giant Sequoia tree in California now bears the same name. View little-known images featuring Jumbo and learn about his extraordinary life. Led by Andrew McClellan, professor of Art History at Tufts University and author of Jumbo: Marvel, Myth & Mascot (2014).

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 Program


Dear Friends of The Barnum Museum,

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.

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 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.


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