Museum experience will bring Barnes family alive

Published on Tuesday, 3 September 2019 15:52


SOUTHINGTON - The Barnes Museum will offer a “Living Museum” experience to visitors Sept. 7, with actors portraying the famous family and speaking about their lives and contributions with quotes from diary entries.

The Barnes Museum, 85 N. Main St., was home to the affluent Barnes family, who were great donors and supporters of the town. After the death of Bradley Barnes in 1973, the home was donated to the town, which has kept it preserved along with its extensive collection of antiques. On Sept. 7, from 1 to 5 p.m., visitors will have a chance to learn what those who once resided in the historic home were like.

Library Director Kristi Sadowski, who also oversees the Barnes Museum, said that one of the museum curators, Bonnie Plourde, has connections to local theater groups and that these actors will be taking on the roles.

“Each one will have a short speech based on things that the family members said in their diary entries,” said Sadowski. “The diaries themselves are also on display.”

Sadowski said that the living museum embodies the slogan that caretakers have used for the museum - “where history comes alive.”

“Three generations of the Barnes family lived in the home and they made additions in 1839, 1874 and 1911,” she said. “Walking through, you will get a sense of what the town was like at the time. You will also learn what the family was like in their daily lives, not just from assumptions based on the artifacts, but from actual diary entries. For example, there is a pair of slippers on Leila Barnes’ bed. One of them is unfinished, and there is a diary entry which says that she was making them as a Christmas present but never finished them.”

Sadowski encouraged people to come to the living museum event, which she said is a way of paying tribute to the family and thanking them for all that they did for the town.

Those who wish to support the Barnes Museum, while also having a fun night out, can do so by entering into the museum’s fourth annual “Night at the Museum” raffle fundraiser. The winner and six guests will enjoy a four course meal in the Barnes Museum’s dining room, catered by chef Hector Delgado of Flair Restaurant, on Oct. 24. The drawing will be held on Oct. 12. Tickets for the raffle are available at the Barnes Museum and at Southington Public Library.

Marie Secondo, another curator at the museum, noted that in past years the fundraisers have paid for the restoration of the museum’s gazebo and its Steinway player piano.

The Living Museum will be included with general admission, which is $8 for general admission, $6 seniors, $4 for students and free for children younger than 5 and members of the Friends of the Barnes Museum.

For more information on the Barnes Museum, call 860-628-5426 or visit

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

Posted in The Bristol Press, Southington Herald on Tuesday, 3 September 2019 15:52. Updated: Tuesday, 3 September 2019 15:54.