Southington museum OK'd to seek grant

Published on Sunday, 16 December 2018 21:16


SOUTHINGTON - The Town Council has authorized the Barnes Museum to pursue a “Museums for America” grant that would allow it to hire a part-time program coordinator.

Kristi Sadowski, director of the museum and the Southington Library, told the Town Council last week that the museum needs the grant and also needs to begin a volunteer docent program.

“We are going for a $110,000 grant through the Institute of Museums and Library Services,” said Sadowski. “A 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.”

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. The historic house, which contains antiques that belonged to the family, has since been converted into a museum and preserved in much the same way Barnes left it.

“We have a lot of valuable items and antiques and a lot of people wanting to see the collection,” said Sadowski. “There 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 doorbell 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.”

Sadowski said the grant proposal is due Friday and that she and Barnes Museum staff are now working out the details. The winners are expected to be announced next September.

An example of the type of programming that Sadowski would like the Barnes Museum to provide could show children the history of radio through Barnes’ collection of radios.

“It would be cool for kids to see old radios and understand how they eventually led to the podcasts they listen to today,” she said. “We would explain to them that radio used to be the primary form of entertainment before TV, and let them make their own podcast in the style of an old-time radio program.”

In addition to special exhibits, the Barnes Museum hosts the annual Taste of Southington in August, featuring local restaurants and supported by donations and sponsors.

This December, it had a photo day with Santa and Mrs. Claus that attracted 150 visitors and 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.

“Last year, 89 percent of our visitors were from Connecticut and the remaining 11 percent were from other countries,” said Sadowski.

“Of 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. We’re just looking for some more security and some more sustainability.”

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

Posted in New Britain Herald, Southington Herald on Sunday, 16 December 2018 21:16. Updated: Sunday, 16 December 2018 21:19.