$50,000 Grant Received from Avangrid Foundation

Barnum Museum Received a $50,000 Grant from the Avangrid Foundation to Illuminate the Exterior of the Historic And Dynamic Structure

Barnum Museum Receives a $50,000 Grant from Avangrid Foundation

Primary Purpose is to Illuminate the Exterior of the Historic And Dynamic Structure 


The Barnum Museum’s revitalization efforts exemplify Avangrid Foundation’s dedication to preserving culture and artistic heritage. The Museum is committed to intellectual exchange, community engagement and enriching the lives of those we serve. The Barnum welcomes visitors of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and celebrates the uniqueness in all humanity much as our founder, P.T. Barnum, did during his lifetime. The Barnum is a vital part of American History as well as the City of Bridgeport’s cultural heritage; the Barnum is steadfastly committed to the protection and preservation of the historic building so it can serve as a symbol of innovation and invention now and in the future

Avangrid Foundation’s support was given to the museum for assistance needed in the continued revitalization of the Barnum Museum, a national registered historic site. The Barnum Museum’s restoration/re-envisioning is an ongoing effort initiated by damage from three natural disasters which occurred 2010 – 2012 (EF1 Tornado, Hurricane Irene, Super Storm Sandy).  The team of historic preservation, engineering and design specialists has been assembled since 2010 and has successfully completed three critical phases of restoration which include: stabilization and repair of timber truss system and roof framing, east wall conservation, and the stabilization of the northwest dome structure.

“The Barnum Museum has shown incredible endurance and relevance, personifying the life of P.T. Barnum himself, and is integral to the rich cultural legacy and future of Bridgeport, Connecticut and the Northeast as a whole,” said Nicole Licata, Grant Director of the Avangrid Foundation.  “We are committed to investing in that which makes communities sustainable, unique and vibrant, like the Barnum Museum.”

The current restoration of the historic building focuses on stabilization of the remaining combined roof/attic structure (south and central areas) including rehabilitation of the front, southwest pyramidal roof, four corner finials, the small dome and supporting masonry in the southeast corner of the roof.  The project also focuses on the historic restoration and preservation of the decorative exterior façade.

Avangrid Foundation’s support will address an exciting illumination design.  The Barnum Museum will work with an historic architectural lighting design firm to create a comprehensive lighting program that will showcase the extraordinary architectural details of the historic Barnum building.

“We are so grateful to the Avangrid Foundation for this wonderful grant” said Executive Director, Kathleen Maher, “we share their dedication to preserve culture and artistic heritage in our communities. The Barnum is a vital part of our region and state, and we are committed to the protection and preservation of the historic building so it can serve as a symbol of innovation and invention now and for generations to come.”

Completed in 1893 at a cost of $85,000, the Barnum Institute of Science and History building was designed by the Bridgeport, Connecticut, architectural firm of Longstaff and Hurd.  Sculptor Henri Plasschaert is responsible for the elaborate terra cotta friezes that depict an assortment of foliage and animals, and features historical scenes around the band of the massive dome.  Today known as the Barnum Museum, the brownstone and terra cotta structure is an impressive, eclectic blend of styles, predominantly Romanesque Revival.  P. T. Barnum (1810 – 1891) gave the land and money to build the three-story, domed structure as a place of intellectual exchange and community engagement, providing education and entertainment to a global audience.

This scope of the Avangrid project will include research, exploration of various lighting options, and the execution of a lighting strategy that will be energy-conscious and historically responsive. Carefully balancing the historic significance of the structure while acknowledging the modern, urban context of Bridgeport’s Main Street, the result will be a brilliant visual beacon in the heart of the city’s active downtown. The visual impact will serve as a point of pride for Connecticut’s citizens and will feature the Barnum Museum as one of the most prominent landmarks in the state.

The Avangrid Foundation is an independent organization that funds philanthropic investments primarily in area where AVANGRID and its subsidiaries operate. AVANGRID, Inc. an integrated energy company headquartered in Orange, Connecticut. It is an affiliate of Spain-based Iberdrola, S.A. and includes wholly owned subsidiaries United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas. For more information, please visit the Avangrid Foundation section of the website: avangrid.com.