With time, all documents, photos and memorabilia fades, ages, disintegrates and loses it’s original look. That already is a natural process but add a natural disaster and your chances of losing history gets even greater. This is what happened at the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut when they got hit by a tornado. The need to create an online archive is a giant project but one that is absolutely necessary when it comes to such a vast collection as well as one so historic. Preserving and digitizing documents allows for the ephemera to last a life time as well as creating a resource for scholarly work at your finger tips.
With All Your Might:
Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now. – Phineas T.
CREATING THE P. T. BARNUM DIGITAL COLLECTION
SUPPORTED BY FUNDING FROM THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES
Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now. – Phineas T. Barnum
In June 2010, the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut was hit by an EF-1 tornado. The building sustained major damage and the collections sustained varying degrees of damage as well. The Museum is the last surviving building attributed to the American visionary entrepreneur and showman, Phineas T. Barnum, who was no stranger to disasters himself, having lost two museum buildings as well as his home to catastrophic fires.
The estimate of structural damage is in the millions. Yet, in true Barnum-style, after the tornado hit the museum staff hand-scrawled “The Show Must Go On!” on the boarded up front windows.
Museum Curator Adrienne Saint-Pierre was initially hired to deal with the aftermath of the tornado. All the collections had to be removed from the building and put into storage, and Ms. Saint-Pierre worked with conservators to assess the damaged collection materials, which range from items such as documents, books, and photographs to more unusual objects such as top hats, uniforms, furniture, and a carriage in the shape of a nut.
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Story by Julie Martin