It has been one heck of a year at the New England Carousel Museum and the Bushnell Park Carousel with exciting special events produced and wonderful new education programs created and successfully produced for our communities.
Taking part in hosting the National Carousel Association annual conference in Connecticut during September with the spotlight on the Carousel Museum and the historic Bushnell Park Carousel was one of the high points of the year.
The conference featured many of the Carousel Museum staff showing off our facilities, our Restoration Department, presentations about the art and history of the carousel, and our educational programming which we have shared with others across the country. Both the Carousel Museum and the Bushnell Park Carousel received National Awards of Excellence for our work in preservation and education.
This past year we have had many carousel pieces donated to our collection including an inside row Gustav Dentzel jumper horse brought to us from Kansas, a William Dentzel outside row jumper, a wonderful outside row Trojan-style jumper horse created by the Allan Herschell Co. of North Tonawanda, NY, an Armitage Herschell jumper horse, a beautiful Dentzel prancer horse, and two mirror decorative panels from the Linda Naum collection. Our newest acquisition is from the estate of Emily Taillon. Emily donated her Spillman jumper horse that belonged to her late husband Norm, named Stormin’ Norman by the Taillon family.
On our education front, three new programs have been created this year. Thanks to a grant from the Main Street Community Foundation we introduced the M.A.T.H. (Music, Art, Technology, and History) program to the Bristol Schools with great success. We are now preparing to offer the program state-wide. A new low-vision audio tour has been created thanks to a grant from the Bristol Lions Club, and working alongside CRIS Radio, celebrating audible museum service. CRIS ACCESS, using smartphones and QR codes, will provide instant audio descriptions and information about select museum exhibits for people with disabilities.
Recently, we have received a grant from the Barnes Foundation that helps us continue to underwrite an educator position to give daily tours of the Museum of Fire History and helps us create Fire prevention and safety programs.
In addition, this past year we received a major grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving for $80,000 to help keep the Bushnell Park Carousel operating. We have also received news of a $150,000 grant award from the Department of Economic and Community Development Historic Division for a “Good to Great” grant. This grant will allow us to install a new air handling system in the Carousel Museum building to help preserve and protect our valuable collection and to air condition our building, allowing our ballroom to be available for year-round facility rentals.
We have had a wonderful year producing over 100 events for the community including, a great Mardi Gras Party in February, our annual Harley Davidson fundraising raffle, and the Museum Magic CT Open House Day in June. In addition, the Annual Birthday Party for the Bushnell Park Carousel and the Crocodile Club in August, the NCA Conference in September, and the Zombie Ball in October. November was a very busy month with the ACE Awards dinner and Bizarre Bazaar, our annual art & craft fair, and the ever popular Santa Sunday (1,006 people attended this year) as well as the Winterfest kick-off in Hartford at the Bushnell Park Carousel. During December we held our Holiday Party and Annual Meeting, Winter Wonderful Activities for Children, and a wonderful New Year’s Eve dinner dance featuring the Chaparrals in Bristol. In Hartford, we helped run First Night Hartford keeping the Carousel turning into the New Year.
It has been a wonderful year for the Carousel Museum and we are grateful to all of you who supported us by visiting the Museum or the Carousel. Renting our facility, holding a birthday party, visiting our gift shop, taking a Museum membership or by attending one of our fundraising events.
The Carousel Museum staff and Board of Directors wish you a happy, healthy, and joyful new year. We look forward to seeing you in 2019.
Louise L. DeMars is the executive director of the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol.