Barnes Museum curator to teach local history at area schools

Published on Wednesday, 7 June 2017 20:27


SOUTHINGTON - Marie Secondo, curator of The Barnes Museum, will be visiting Thalberg and Plantsville elementary schools next week to teach young students about town history.

Secondo will be visiting Thalberg School Monday at 2 p.m. and Plantsville Elementary School Wednesday at 9 a.m. In the past few weeks, she has visited DePaolo Middle School and Hatton and Strong elementary schools.

“This wonderful program is something that was started by the previous curator, Barbara Brierly, which I have carried on,” said Secondo. “Toward the end of the school year, most of the schools start teaching about local history. I usually visit to speak with fourth, fifth and second graders. It’s really nice to come in and tell children about the family that lived in the house that is now The Barnes Museum.”

Secondo said that young students have their “minds blown” when they learn that people once lived without electricity.

“Back then people had no iPhones or TVs to occupy their time so they found other things to do,” said Secondo. “I read from Bradley Barnes’ diary entries where he talks about having a sled that was pulled behind his father’s horse. He also talks about playing board games and the fact that when company came over people would often play instruments. Bradley had a drum set and also played the harmonica and mandolin. There was always a piano in every house.”

Another part of Secondo’s presentation is called “What it is?” For this, she brings in items that children might not be familiar with and then asks them to try to guess what it was used for. For example, she may bring in a rug beater and then explain to students how it was used to clean carpets before vacuums were invented.

“It’s not only fun but educational too,” she said. “Another item which I have brought in is a button hook. Everything used to have buttons before zippers were invented. People wore high-top button shoes and button hooks helped prevent wear when you had to button up 20 buttons every morning.”

Secondo will also share general facts about town history with students.

“I have talked about Nicholas Gritto, who moved to Southington from Italy and invented the thornless rose,” she said. “Concrete was also discovered right here in Southington and was used to build up our bridges.”

Following her talk, Secondo gives students free passes to the Barnes Museum and invites them to visit over summer break.

“During one visit I overheard a little girl walking out of a classroom saying ‘I can’t wait to go here, I have to tell mommy right now,’” said Secondo. “When they do visit they usually ask a lot of questions. Sometimes I have a hard time getting my two cents in because there are so many arms enthusiastically waving.”

Secondo has also visited local organizations such as the Lion’s Club and Rotary Club to discuss the history of the museum.

“People don’t realize that the museum belongs to the people of Southington,” said Secondo. “It was left to the town.”

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Arts, Southington Herald on Wednesday, 7 June 2017 20:27. Updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2017 20:30.