Museum Hours:

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. 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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Due to an overnight power outage, The Barnum Museum phones are not working this morning. We are working to fix the situation! If you need to contact us, please email or Facebook the Barnum staff. We will reach out to you ASAP!


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 . 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.


The Greatest Show on Earth ... Thoughts from the Director (01/16/2016 on

Our hearts go out to Feld Entertainment, particularly the Greatest Show On Earth family, with this weekend’s announcement that the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus will close its tent doors in May 2017.... Read More on


Contribute Online Here!

Dear Friends,

Holiday Appeal: As we take time to reflect on 2016, we are truly grateful for our friends, neighbors and community who inspire us to achieve wonderful things.

We are so happy to tell you that restoration and re-envisioning of the magnificent Barnum Museum continues!

Our National Endowment artifact digitization project has begun and soon thousands of students, teachers, researchers and scholars from around the world will be able to see our wonderful collections including fascinating items like P.T. Barnum's 1829 top hat and Tom Thumb's 1863 wedding vest. This year the Barnum Museum is featured on the Travel Channel program Mysteries at the Museum, and we have partnered with organizations including Museum of the City of New York, Ringling Museum of Art in Florida, and Folkets Hus och Parker in Sweden on engaging programs and exhibitions. We anticipate 2017 to be equally filled with activity and we are excited to share new and exhilarating events with you all!

With the holidays approaching and the season of gift-giving upon us, I hope you will consider a tax-deductible gift to the Barnum Museum! Your gift will truly help us continue our work and transform the Museum with engaging experiences for all to enjoy. The heartfelt kindness of friends like you encourages us to continue our efforts to build a new and vibrant Museum for the future.

Please think of the Museum during this holiday season 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 stimulating Barnum Museum experience!

Our 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.

With sincere thanks and all best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season to you and your family!

Kathleen Maher
Executive Director
"The Noblest Art is that of Making Others Happy" P.T. Barnum, 1886

Please make checks payable to The Barnum Museum, or contribute online here. All contributions are tax deductible.


Essay on the Cardiff Giant, published in the series "A National Conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zócalo Public Square" by Ken Feder, Professor, Archaeologist and Author at Central Connecticut State University. The Monster That Stoked Americans’ Devotion to Faith Over Science: How a New York Farmer's Elaborate Hoax "Proved" Giants Roamed the Earth.


From the United Kingdom's DailyMail, October 16, 2016: Harvard museum dusts off curiosities long kept in storage, including mermaid figurine made from paper-mache and fish parts that P.T. Barnum once toured around the country to great fanfare ... Read more.


Mr. Brinley (1917-2016): Thoughts from the Museum

The 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 generations.

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.

The Barnum Museum wishes all condolences and peace to the Brinley family. ... Read more on the All Things Barnum Blog.

The family has asked that any memorial contributions in Mr. Brinley's memory be made to the Barnum Museum. Donations can be made in a number of ways:

Donate Online:

Donate by Offline by Credit Card:

If you would like to donate offline by credit card, please call (203) 331-1104 x 100. We accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover.

Donate Checks and Money Orders:

Please mail checks and money orders to:
The Barnum Museum
820 Main Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604

Donate Cash:

Please do not mail cash. If you'd like to make a cash donation, please visit us during our public hours.

The Barnum Museum is a registered 501(c)3. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.



September 8, 2016 - Kathy Maher, Executive Director has announced the appointment of Robert C. Cardillo to the Board of Directors of the historic Barnum Museum in Bridgeport. ... Read More.


Sacred Heart University Alumni News: August 31, 2016
Alice Ferreira ’91 Takes Helm of Barnum Museum’s Board of Directors at a Critical Time



August 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 Preservation Council.

The Council, founded in 1955, includes 12 members who advise the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) on critical historic preservation issues.

Maher 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.


The Barnum Museum Receives $500,000 Grant for Restoration Efforts

July 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.

Left to right: Steve Tyliszczak, Governor Dannel Malloy, Kathleen Maher

Executive 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."

Members 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.


Barnum Museum receives National Endowment Grant for P. T. Barnum Historical Resources

Today history buffs, students, and researchers alike make extensive use of the Internet, and the Barnum Museum has long wanted to make its collections of P. T. Barnum material more widely accessible via the Internet. That wish will come true over the course of the next year and a half as the Museum, partnering with the Bridgeport Public Library's History Center, undertakes a cataloging and digitization project that will feature 1000 items in the to-be-created P. T. Barnum Digital Collection. The digital collection will be freely accessible to the public via the Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA), which is hosted by the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut State Library. The records will also be discoverable through the Digital Public Library of America.

The project is funded with a matching grant of $190,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through their Humanities Collections References and Resources grants program. NEH grants are highly competitive, and proposed projects must justify the value of the material to the humanities, along with a detailed plan of how the project will be accomplished. "Receiving this grant is both an honor and an exciting opportunity to make our artifacts and archives accessible to people around the world," notes Kathleen Maher, Executive Director. "Each week we receive inquiries from people in distant places, both in the U. S. and faraway places like Australia, even the Fiji Islands. This project will in essence bring our outstanding collections to them."

Read more . . .

Conservator Christopher Augerson at work on a miniature rosewood bed that was P. T. Barnum's wedding gift to "Mr. and Mrs. Gen. Tom Thumb" (Charles Stratton and Lavinia Warren) in 1863. The bed is one of many rare items included in the grant project.
A miniature wool jacket custom-made for "Gen. Tom Thumb" (Charles Stratton), ca. 1850. The jacket features firemen's crossed axes on the sleeves, a clue that this may have been made for an event honoring Tom Thumb, who gave a generous donation to a Bridgeport Fire Company.


Game Change: Author Elliot Forte discusses the entrepreneur P.T. Barnum and how his Art of Money Getting is the source of all business books today.



From 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 it’s like to recover from multiple disasters of biblical proportions: Episode Eight Podcast


Barnum Museum battles back with new vision
By Bill Fallon | Faifield County Business Fournal

Call it the trifecta from hell.

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 bull’s-eye on it. That was followed by hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.

Piling on the injuries, the museum’s 20,000 artifacts —many of them paper — were in danger of the same fate as Tom Thumb’s 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.

It would seem the sort of karmic pile-up to send a responsible person searching for cover or even for the egress, P.T. Barnum’s famous exit sign.

Not so in the case of Alice Ferreira, who was named chairwoman of The Barnum Museum board of directors in January. ... Read More.


Secrets 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 11/7/15)



The Barnum Museum Names Alice Ferreira Chairperson of the Board

The Barnum Museum has named Alice Ferreira chairman of the board of directors of The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Conn.

A 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.

"P.T. Barnum 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 More.




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


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


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Made possible in part by the
Fairfield County Community Foundation