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 tours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m on Thursdays and Fridays year round, except for the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Nov. 26, 2015); Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (Dec. 24 & 25, 2015); and New Year's Day (Jan. 1, 2016). The exhibit is in the People's United Bank Gallery behind the historic Museum building.

Please note: The historic portion of the Museum building is closed during restoration and rehabilitation of the landmark structure. The Museum offices and exhibit gallery are now located in the People's United Bank Gallery (the modern wing at the rear of the historic building). Follow signs pointing to the entrance from the plaza. The doors are open only during gallery and program hours.

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Barnum Museum Awarded Grant to Film Unveiling of Unusual Artifact


The Barnum Museum will reveal the contents of this unusual box on Saturday, Nov. 7th at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

A 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, CT.

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 More.


From Sidelines to Headlines: The Intrepid Nellie Bly

A popular game board from the 1890s celebrated Nellie Bly's record-breaking global trot.

Join us for a delightful afternoon of lively entertainment and seasonal refreshments on Sunday, October 18th at 2 p.m. when storyteller-historian Sharon Twickler takes on the role of 19th century journalist Nellie Bly. If the name Nellie Bly sounds familiar but you've forgotten just who she was, this little ditty will remind you of her most famous publicity stunt:

"Jules Verne declared in eighty days
A man the trip could do,
Along trots Nellie Bly and does
The job in seventy-two"

A pioneering journalist and author, Nellie Bly began her incredible trip around the world in 1889, arriving back in New Jersey on January 25, 1890, in just 72 days, to the astonishment of all. Even P.T. Barnum was impressed and cabled a message to Nellie which he promptly released to the press:

"As an American who knows by experience the difficulties and dangers of travel, I congratulate Miss Bly on her most remarkable success, personal pluck and courage. I look in her direction for new popular features in my show."

No less impressed was the American public, captivated by the young woman who seemed to fear nothing. The daring and resourceful Nellie Bly, whose real name was Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, was far ahead of her time in the challenges she took on as a woman forging a place for herself in the male-dominated field of journalism.

Storyteller-historian Sharon Twickler dresses as Nellie Bly for the presentation.

Attired in a checked wool suit and cap just like those Miss Bly wore on her global travels, storyteller-historian Sharon Twickler will present "Nellie" as she might have appeared on her national tour following her record-breaking trip. "Nellie" will regale you with her adventures, travels, and storied life including her personal accounts of the lives of the prominent people she interviewed, and her infamous "ten days in a mad house," in which she went undercover to investigate a mental asylum.

Our afternoon program with Nellie Bly will begin with seasonal hors d'oeuvres and hot beverages at 2 p.m., in the People's United Bank Gallery (enter behind the historic Barnum Museum building.) Ms. Twickler's dramatic presentation will begin at about 2:30 p.m. Ms. Twickler studied history at the University of Connecticut and nineteenth century culture at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City; she developed her presentation after she became fascinated with Nellie Bly's story about two years ago.

Admission for Barnum Museum Members is $5 per person, up to four guests per member. Admission for non-members is $10 per person. Seating is limited; please RSVP no later than noon on Friday, October 16th. 2015. Call (203) 331-1104 ext. 100 or send email to: info@barnum-museum.org.


Barnum Museum: Building a 21st century museum from scratch
Connecticut Post | Phyllis A.S. Boros | August 28, 2015


Please help us to restore The Barnum Museum!


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.

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.


CPTV - Prohibition: Connecticut Goes Dry


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