Barnum Museum continues to preserve circus history despite show ending

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH)– The “Ringling Brothers Barnum And Bailey Circus” is coming to a close but the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport will continue to preserve its history.

Connecticut has a connection to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. P.T. Barnum was born in Bethel and later lived in Bridgeport.

Despite the end of the show, the museum is expanding. It is planning new exhibits that will open in the next few years.

Executive Director Kathleen Maher says the circus is something families have been enjoying for generations.

“Most people have a memory, whatever that memory might be, of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey coming into their town,” said Maher.


The museum is filled with artifacts – items from the show and some of Barnum’s personal belongings.
There are also paintings, including one of Tom Thumb.

“Tom Thumb became really the first rock star,” said Maher.

The museum has a suit Thumb wore in the 1840s when meeting the Queen of England. It will be one of the museum’s new exhibits.

“We are the stewards. We are the preservers of this remarkable history, all of Barnum’s history,” said Maher.

The items at the museum have been carefully preserved so they will tell the stories of Barnum for years to come. That’s something Maher says is especially important now, since the circus will be ending this spring.

“For the museum it means an extraordinary opportunity to tell an even bigger and greater story,” said Maher. “This is the museum’s charge.”

The museum plans to continue its relationship with Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus.

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