BRISTOL - The New England Carousel Museum has grown more this year than the last five combined, while providing more than 120 community events, says Louise DeMars, executive director.
The museum, at 95 Riverside Ave., features an extensive collection of carousel horses that staff work to restore, preserve and display. The building also has a working carousel, a space for art exhibits, a ball room and a dance floor. The Museum of Fire History and Museum of Greek Art and History are also located on the second floor.
When it began in 1990 it only had one carousel horse, which was built in 1895 and once belonged to Lake Compounce. Over the years, it has built up an extensive collection.
In the past year alone, the museum has received donations of 10 antique carousel horses.
“We received an Allan Herschell Trojan Horse, built in 1940, from an elderly gentleman in Maine,” said DeMars. “A Mr. Naum from New York donated two shields and two horses. We also had a carousel horse that was brought over to us from Long Island on a ferry. We also have one coming to us from Las Vegas and one that is being driven here from Kansas.”
The museum currently has an exhibit set up to showcase new acquisitions. They also organized numerous community events, including the ACE Awards, a Mardi Gras party, the Zombie Ball, Princess Tea parties, concerts and dances.
“We also do educational programming that illustrates our mission statement,” said DeMars. “This year we are excited to launch our MATH (Music, Art, Technology and History) program. School children will be coming to the museum for field trips and learning about the music of the carousels, the art of the carousels and the technology and mechanisms that make them work as well as their history. Carousels are really a unique art form that is an important part of Americana.”
Today, DeMars said, there are less than 170 working antique wooden carousels in the country. The museum has campaigned to save and restore some of these remaining carousels.
The museum was also recently recognized by the National Carousel Association. On Sept. 14, 240 members of the organization came to the New England Carousel Museum for a dinner and presentation with speakers. They were also taken out to see the carousel at Sonny’s Place.
For more information on The New England Carousel Museum, call 860-585-5411 or visit thecarouselmuseum.org.