Storms Jeopardize P.T. Barnum Collection

Double Rainbow in Sea Isle City
Nikki Fratantoro Maskell

For 118 years, the museum honoring a man who brought us the P.T. Barnum and Bailey Circus has preserved P.T. Barnum’s private papers, a souvenir piece of Tom Thumb’s wedding cake from 1863 and artifacts of the Greatest Show on Earth.

On Thursday, storms tore through the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, threatening pieces of American history.

As winds up to 80 miles per hour came through, two Main Street windows of the museum were completely blown out. One of them was repaired just last month. This allowed storm water and wind to howl through the first floor exhibition areas.

The first floor gallery holds a souvenir piece of cake from Tom Thumb's 1863 wedding cake, the Feejee Mermaid and personal items from the Barnum family.

Water also seeped into the basement storage area, wetting the archival collection of Barnum books, Kathleen Maher, executive director and curator of the museum said.

“We had extraordinary help from many of our friends who came to assist with the recovery, and currently the building and collection are stabilized for the moment,” Maher said by e-mail.

The storms came through as the museum celebrates Barnum’s 200th birthday.

The museum will get a professional assessment of damage to the building and the museum collections.

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