Why is the Barnum Museum so special?
P.T. Barnum is one of America’s greatest thinkers and innovators – the greatest showman on earth! – and the Barnum Museum is his last and only physical legacy in the United States. The Museum owns more than 60,000 artifacts relating to Barnum,
Bridgeport and 19th century America, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We carry on Barnum’s own mission: to inspire curiosity, creativity and confidence through instructive entertainment.
You are rebuilding and re-envisioning the Barnum Museum. What can we expect?
We are creating a new and exciting Museum that combines history and innovative technology to tell the incredible stories of P.T. Barnum. It will be an interactive and immersive experience for visitors to understand Barnum’s global impact on leadership, entrepreneurship, and entertainment.
The re-imagined Barnum Museum will transform and expand perceptions of Barnum from showman to a remarkable thinker, entrepreneur, philanthropist, a force for good, and timeless role model for the power and strength of the indomitable human spirit.
Was the re-envisioning part of a master plan?
Always! However, the unfortunate natural disasters (a 2010 tornado, Hurricane Irene, and Superstorm Sandy) hit the Museum hard, and now the historic landmark requires extensive repair and reconstruction.
In the spirit of Barnum, who endured many setbacks to his enterprises, we will return better than before with a new and bold museum offering the latest technology and multi-sensory visitor experiences!
So, a tornado. Really?
Does this mean the Museum is closed to the public?
No! The Museum is OPEN to the public all year round and offers programs for guests of all ages. If you visit us today, you will see Barnum-era artifacts including Tom Thumb’s miniature carriages, the Feejee Mermaid, and even a mythological centaur, among other artifacts only seen at the Museum. The historic part of the Museum is undergoing restoration and is not accessible at this time.
The Barnum Museum is open on Thursdays and Fridays (and Saturdays during the summer), as well as during special programs and events. There is no admission charge, but we’re always grateful for donations. We are a tax deductible not-for-profit, so your contributions are tax deductible!
Are you still presenting programs?
You bet! The Barnum Museum hosts all kinds of special events, lectures, and programs for students, groups, and organizations—both on site and off-site—throughout the year.
The Barnum Museum hosts innovative programs that attract far-reaching attention, from the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
This renovation sounds like a major initiative. What is going to happen?
The restoration of a building that is on the National Register of National Places in the United States is certainly a complicated process. Since 2011, the Museum has raised and invested over $5 million for restorations. We are currently working with the internationally acclaimed firm BRC Imagination Arts to fully plan the immersive exhibits, experiences, and stories we will feature in the new, re-envisioned Museum. At this point, we are right on track to continue construction and ramp-up fundraising efforts.
How much funding do you believe is needed to fully restore and re-envision the Museum?
To accomplish the delicate restoration of the building, preservation of its artifacts, and create a vision that will live up to P.T. Barnum’s legacy, we project $55 million in funding is needed. We have already raised and invested over $5 million into the effort.
BRC Imagination Arts to fully plan the immersive exhibits, experiences, and stories we will feature in the new, re-envisioned Museum. At this point, we are right on track to continue construction and ramp-up fundraising efforts.
Who is helping you realize this vision?
The Barnum Museum is lucky to have exceptional support from people and organizations from all over the world! We rely on our Board, dedicated staff, and tremendous community and statewide support.
The City of Bridgeport and State of Connecticut have pledged to support the continued restoration of the Barnum Museum. We have received grants from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, State
Historic Preservation Office, and Office of Tourism. A sizeable grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities is allowing us, in partnership with the Bridgeport Public Library, to create a P.T. Barnum Digital Collection that will expand accessibility of the collections to a worldwide audience, and delight fans and scholars for years to come. We are also grateful to hundreds of dedicated community supporters who have helped with all aspects of the revitalization!
I want to help. What can I do?
As we look to fund the restoration and re-envisioning, we need champions like you to help carry our message and allow us to continue to raise funds and awareness. Our supporters are growing in number, and we are so grateful for each and every dollar that helps move the re-envisioning forward. Every contribution of time, talent, and treasure is welcome. You can, for example:
- Make a contribution!
- Join our Community Session Meetings
- Follow us on social media
- Join the Museum as a Barnum Museum Vision Member
- Attend our many events and programs
- Spread the word, and recommend friends and resources.