Lost Museum

Project Website: Lost Museum

Lost Museum

American Social History Project, Center for Media and Learning

In 1841 the showman Phineas Taylor Barnum opened his American Museum in New York City. Dominating lower Broadway at Park Row, in no time Barnum’sAmerican Museum became the “most visited place in America.”

For more than twenty years, for six days a week, fifteen hours a day, city slickers and country folk alike flocked to the five-story building to marvel at and mock its myriad of changing attractions.A cornucopia of exhibitions offered visitors, in no particular order, information and entertainment, scientific knowledge and trumped-up fantasy, moral lessons and cruel voyeurism, the sacred and the profane.

Shortly after twelve noon on Thursday, July 13, 1865, in one of the most spectacular fires in New York’s history, Barnum’s American Museum was destroyed.