The Barnum Museum, One of many New England Galleries

Phineas Taylor Barnum was perhaps the best showman of them all. He had a knack for finding and demonstrating uncommon people, creatures and a selection of oddities, many of them scams, such as the Feejee Mermaid.While the Barnum & Bailey Circus remains as-a living testament to his ability for advertising, he was also a politician and journalist and tremendously important both here in the U.S. and in Europe throughout the 19th-century. He may tomanipulate the press in ways that render today’s spin physicians inefficient hacks.P.T. Barnum, as h-e was most widely known, was born in Bethel, Connecticut on July 5, 1810. After his father’s demise in 1826, rural life faded as his best, and he was driven to the city lights of Brooklyn, Ny, where he worked for-a limited time as a store clerk.His own fascination with curiosities, unusual and weird, persuaded him that his contemporaries of-the time will be likewise fascinated, so he attempt to make collecting and displaying peculiarities his profession. His reading of the sentiments of the times was close to, and people collected in large numbers at the various settings he built, in particular, the American Museum in New York.The first of his efforts included Joice Heth, whom he billed as ‘The Greatest Natural & National Curiosity in the World.’Telling those involved that the story-telling, African American girl was 161 years old, he persuaded his readers that, as a servant, she had tended into a young George Washington.When a distinguished medical practitioner pared back her true age to 80 after her autopsy, Barnum insisted that her human anatomy was a phony and that she was still doing elsewhere.In 1841, Barnum started and built the American Museum in the center of ‘Old New York City.’ It comprised an eclectic mixture of incredible and gaudy attractions, including Tom Thumb and the Feejee Mermaid, all-natural history with exhibits showing taxidermy and menageries, and artwork, wax figures and a Lecture Room and theater by which Shakespeare was performed burton staffordshire.To many historians and social scientists, the American Museum was the bedrock of New York’s urban evolution.Remarkably perceptive of the changing demographics of the town and the confluence of different cultures, Barnum modified the exhibits, shows and educational resources to accommodate different cultures and preferences in addition to each strata of the social lessons of the times. There was literally something for everyone.The public reaction was almost as varied whilst the museum’s diversity. Some liked the museum/theatre and some were appalled by it.The flames of this outrage were fanned by Barnum’s support of temperance, and o-n July 1-3, 1865, the American Museum was burnt to-the floor. It’s never been identified who set the fire. He eventually designed a new public further uptown, which also burned down.He is probably best-known, but, for two particular finds: Tom Thumb and Jenny Lind.It was in 1842 that he identified Charles Sherwood Stratton, whom he dubbed Tom Thumb, a person who stood only 2-5 inches tall and weighed a mere 15 pounds at age 11.Barnum used two years in-training Tom to perform, dance and mime, then embarked on the world tour with his small friend who performed for fascinated domestic and European people, including royalty and Abraham Lincoln. Jeff Thumb became a ‘must see’ inside the American Museum.Jenny Lind, whom Barnum named ‘The Swedish Nightingale’ was a musical prodigy. She can play the guitar at age four and developed an extraordinary singing style, which she amply shown to the important and political, including President Millard Fillmore, General Winfield Scott, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Washington Irving and others.The Barnum & Bailey Circus, which he called ‘The greatest show on earth’ is his most suffering legacy.Mixing politics together with his love for the unusual allowed Barnum to provide a term as mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and he served two terms in the Connecticut legislature.The Barnum Museum is definitely an excellent share of living and times of Phineas Taylor Barnum and very much worth a trip.

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