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Visit The Barnum Museum

Visit The Barnum Museum

Just a few minutes from your home in Shelton is a marvelous collection of artifacts detailing the life and history of a legendary entertainer. The Barnum Museum (located in Bridgeport) gives visitors a glimpse into the life of this "Great American Showman" and how his humble beginnings on his family's farm blossomed into world-renowned fame.

The name P.T. Barnum is most often associated with the circus, but it was not until late in his life that he ventured into the American circus industry. Barnum had many accomplishments throughout his life, one of his greatest being the American Museum in New York City. Barnum first set his eyes on New York City at the age of 12, when he was hired to herd a cattle drive to Brooklyn. In his eyes, the city was a land of endless possibilities and the perfect place to entertain the masses. The American Museum opened in 1842, a time when public entertainment was frowned upon--Barnum challenged this general distaste for amusements by creating a place dedicated to entertaining families with curiosities, fine arts, and marvels of nature. One of Barnum's most successful undertakings was none other than the tiny Tom Thumb.

Tom Thumb was an incredibly fascinating boy who found fame and fortune after being discovered by P.T. Barnum. Barnum met Charles Sherwood Stratton (a.k.a. Tom Thumb) in 1842. Stratton was four years old at the time and stood only 25 inches tall, weighing a mere 15 pounds. Fascination soon turned to excitement as Barnum realized the potential of this curious marvel. He arranged to pay Stratton $3.00 per week, plus room, board, and travel expenses for the boy and his mother while they toured New York. Tom Thumb became so popular and successful during that first month in New York that Barnum raised his salary to $7.00 per week which steadily increased until the young boy was earning a jaw-dropping $25.00 each week. Barnum and Tom Thumb brought their entertaining show to Europe, where they traveled through England, France, Germany, and Belgium, performing for elite audiences such as Queen Victoria and her royal family.

The current exhibit, "Envisioning the Future", features astonishing artifacts belonging to Barnum and Tom Thumb, illustrating their thrilling adventures across the globe. The exhibit is located in the People's United Bank Gallery and is open year-round, from 11am-3pm on Thursdays and Fridays. Admission is free. The historic portion of the museum is currently closed due to restorations that will offer visitors a more enjoyable experience in the future.

Please feel free to contact us to learn more about this area and other fun places to visit near your home in Shelton.

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