Community Engagement Message from the Executive Director

Some Barnum Museum Backstory….

For those who might not know, the Barnum Museum was conceived, designed and promoted by P.T. Barnum in 1891. Sadly, he passed away weeks after the plans were set.  But his dream of creating a final museum was kept alive by his family, friends and the Bridgeport community.  The Barnum Institute of Science and History was completed in 1893 and today, we continue Mr. Barnum’s Instructive Entertainment mission.

In 1972, the glorious building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Parks Service and the Department of the Interior making it one of our nation’s most treasured historic places.  In 2010, a month before the Museum’s infamous EF1 tornado strike, the Barnum Museum was elevated from State to National Significance, and is currently under review to become Bridgeport’s first National Historic Landmark (NHL) – NHL sites are historic places that hold national significance. The Secretary of the Interior designates these places as exceptional because of their abilities to illustrate United States heritage. Today, there are only 2,600 NHLs in the United States.  We wait in great anticipation of this pending, exceptional distinction sometime in 2021.

10 2020 SHPO VisitAs stewards of this important American site, every single bit of the Barnum Museum’s restoration, repair and refurbishment is guided by a team of historic preservation specialists and members of the CT State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).  SHPO is the governing authority over all of Connecticut’s historic registered properties – they are the protectors of our historic buildings, sites, structures, districts and objects that comprise Connecticut’s cultural heritage.  The Museum is fortunate and grateful to have this extraordinary team of superheroes to navigate the complex road toward full revitalization.

Last Friday the Museum’s team of architects, engineers, consultants and SHPO were able to have a socially distant meeting onsite (with a FaceTime back-up for a travel-restricted member) to discuss all the upcoming historic restoration of the magnificent Barnum building.

Thanks to you all for keeping Mr. Barnum’s dream, intention and community spirit alive for future generations!

Stay safe, stay strong, 

Executive Director,
Barnum Museum

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