BRISTOL â€“ The Southington Town Council has authorized The Barnes Museum to pursue a â€śMuseums for Americaâ€ť grant that would allow them to hire a part-time program coordinator.
Kristi Sadowski, director of The Barnes Museum as well as Southington Public Library, spoke at last Mondayâ€™s town council meeting to explain the Museumâ€™s need for such a grant, as well as the need to begin a volunteer docent program.
â€śWe are going for a $110,000 grant through the Institute of Museums and Library Services,â€ť said Sadowski. â€śA part-time coordinator would allow us to expand our current offerings and increase them and to bring in more presenters. It would also allow us to free up our curator.â€ť
The Barnes Museum was donated to the town in the will of Bradley Barnes, the last member of his influential family, when he died in 1973 at 90 years old. The historic home, which contains numerous antiques that belonged to the family, has since been converted into a museum and preserved in much the same way that Barnes left it.
â€śWe have a lot of valuable items and antiques and a lot of people wanting to see the collection,â€ť said Sadowski. â€śThere are a finite number of things you can do with the limited staff we have. We maintain our lawns and grounds and we plan our own events. Our tours last 45 minutes to an hour and people can make appointments for them outside of our normal hours. People are ringing our door bell all the time looking for tours, which takes time away from our other tasks. A volunteer docent program is something that is used to help run many museums. The council seemed to support this idea, now we just need to work out the contract details.â€ť
The winners are expected to be announced in Sept. 2019.
An example of the type of programming that Sadowski would like The Barnes Museum to provide could show kids the history of radio through Barnesâ€™ collection of antique radios.
â€śIt would be cool for kids to see old radios and understand how they eventually led to the podcasts they listen to today,â€ť she said. â€śWe would explain to them that radio used to be the primary form of entertainment before TV and radio and let them make their own podcast in the style of an old-time radio program.â€ť
In addition to special exhibits, The Barnes Museum hosts an annual Taste of Southington event in August, featuring local restaurants and supported by donations and sponsors.
This December, they had a photo day with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus that attracted 150 visitors and also brought in 200 pounds of non-perishable food items for Bread for Life.
During White Christmas in the Community, the Barnes Museums had 400 visitors.
â€śLast year, 89 percent of our visitors were from Connecticut and the remaining 11 percent were from other countries,â€ť said Sadowski. â€śOf the 89 percent, 49 percent were from Southington. This means that The Barnes Museum is attracting a lot of out-of-town people who then go to support local businesses and help the economy. Weâ€™re just looking for some more security and some more sustainability.â€ť
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.