The Danbury Museum & Historical Society is YOUR hometown museum. Preserving, protecting, and educating Danbury’s friends, neighbors and visitors about the heritage and history of our community is our main focus! Situated in downtown Danbury, at the southern end of Main Street, the main museum campus is composed of five buildings. Huntington Hall is a modern exhibit building containing changing exhibit space, the museum offices, research library and gift shop. Huntington Hall is also a place for local groups to hold meetings, and is used by the museum to host a diverse series of lectures and programs that are free and open to the public.
The museum preserves several historic buildings including, the John and Mary Rider House (c. 1785), the John Dodd Hat Shop (c. 1790), the Marian Anderson Studio, the King Street Schoolhouse, the Little Red Schoolhouse and the Charles Ives Birthplace. The collections stored in theses historic buildings encompass everything from historic Danbury made hats, to colonial kitchen equipment from the 18th century, to the christening costume of Charles Ives, and gowns worn by Marian Anderson onstage during her career. The Danbury Museum has an outstanding collection of historic textiles and one of the oldest quilts in Connecticut. The archival collection is an amazing example of diverse ephemera tracing the life and lifestyles of Danburians past and present. In addition, historic newspapers, city directories, letters, diaries, and a wide-ranging photo collection provide a unique glimpse of our local, regional and national history. The museum gardens are open dawn to dusk and encompass both historic medicinal gardens as well as colorful formal spaces, with many areas to sit and enjoy this oasis of nature downtown!
Since 1941 the museum has preserved Danbury’s heritage and historic properties as it continues its mission to increase historic based tourism, museum programming, and the expansion of local history curriculum in our public schools. The Danbury Museum is thrilled to provide tours of the historic buildings in its collection, and to safeguard the documents that reflect the myriad of faces of our city’s history.
The recent completion of an extensive renovation to Huntington Hall provided the museum with handicap accessibility, a permanent Danbury history timeline exhibit, and the installation of new display cases that are used for temporary and revolving exhibits. The Danbury Museum hosted a very successful, six month exhibit focused on the history of our City Police and Fire Departments last summer and fall. Through November 2014 the Danbury Museum will be exploring “Quintessential Quilts: Piecing Together Danbury’s History””, through the use of 18th, 19th and 20th century quilts from the museum’s collection.
The museum continues to concentrate on highlighting Danbury’s local history and providing a rich diversity of programs. Last year programs in our January to June series focused on local collections and collectors, historians, authors, artists, and complimented the local musicians who performed in the Marian Anderson Studio. The museum launched a renewed initiative to increase school programming for Danbury children inclusive of tours, on-site re-enactors and in-school programs, which reached over 2,000 children in the last fiscal year alone. Research services are readily available for addressing local history and genealogy-related queries. In the past year, we are thrilled to have accommodated students, family historians, authors, and filmmakers from all over the globe. Recently secured funds have enabled the museum to purchase and install software that will allow us to fully catalog our collections, both material culture and archival, for easier access. Thanks to the generosity of the City of Danbury and through the award of an Historic Resources Fund grant through the State of CT, Department of Economic and Community Development, the Danbury Museum is poised, this fall, to complete phase 1, the exterior rehabilitation of the nationally recognized Charles Ives Birthplace. In late summer 2014 the museum will reopen a renovated Marian Anderson Studio exhibit with a focus on more interactive exhibitry and the presentation of more of her outstanding costume collection.
The Danbury Museum & Historical Society has continued to add to our extensive web site, providing the first stop for research into Danbury history and providing for the easy dissemination of walking tours, biographies and short essays about critical past events in local history. For more about new programs, lectures, exhibits, tours, fundraisers and events you can also like the Danbury Museum & Historical Society page on Facebook, follow the Danbury Museum on Twitter, or sign up, on the website, for a free copy of the museum’s monthly e-newsletter “Danbury Happenings”