The Barnum Museum’s collection is astonishingly diverse! It contains thousands of artifacts as well as an archive of manuscripts and photographs. It is rich with curious and one-of-a-kind items, many pertaining to P. T. Barnum and his famous associates, including “General Tom Thumb,” Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, and the beloved African elephant, Jumbo. We even have a centaur skeleton—yes, we do–and a replica of Barnum’s FeJee Mermaid!
Our collection of Barnum’s personal and family items includes elaborate furniture, household items, artwork, clothing, and books that reveal his taste, interests, and achievements. Our “Highlights” section features a few of these extraordinary Barnum-related artifacts!
In addition to our P. T. Barnum holdings, many items from early days of The Barnum Institute of Science and History have remained in the collection, including a 4000-year-old Egyptian mummy, early tools and ceremonial items from cultures around the world, American colonial-era and Civil War artifacts, and biological specimens. Bridgeport’s early industries are also represented in the collection.
We are grateful for support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Grant funding from NEH allowed us to have hundreds of items in our collection professionally photographed so that you, too, can enjoy them!
This poster-sized print showcases Barnum’s famous tattooed Greek, Captain George Costentenus, who performed in the Greatest Show on Earth in the 1870s.
Imagine a slice of wedding cake that is more than 150 years old!
Two uncut banknotes from the Pequonnock Bank of Bridgeport, Connecticut, reveal the signature of the bank’s first President, P. T. Barnum.
This two-seater, called a pony phaeton, was made in Bridgeport for “Charlie” and his equally petite wife, Lavinia, to use about town.
These miniature leather boots belonged to “General Tom Thumb,” whose real name was Charles S. Stratton.
This bright yellow ticket dates from the 1870s, the early years of Barnum’s circus enterprises, years before “Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth.”
Barnum and his first wife Charity had four daughters, three of whom are shown in this handsome oil portrait by Frederick Spencer, dated 1847.
This souvenir booklet, History of Animals, features Jumbo, the famous African elephant, on its cover.
Our earliest portrait of P. T. Barnum dates to 1844 and shows him at a desk with quill pen in hand.
This ticket from a Jenny Lind concert is red for a reason!
P.T. Barnum’s 18-karat gold ring features his beloved Bridgeport home, Iranistan, completed in 1848.
“Mrs. General Tom Thumb,” whose real name was Lavinia Warren Stratton, is the beautiful little lady featured in this paper doll from the 1860s, which is part of a set. Her green “silk” gown is hand-colored.