Our 62nd season opens with a look back to the days when every small town or big city boasted an active Main Street — Norfolk was no exception. The 1850's map of the town shows Main Street running from the end of the Village Green down to the Catholic Church. This area was the hub of the town, with hotels, doctors, pharmacies, dry goods, meat and produce markets and a millinery shop. Come explore how the commerce evolved as Norfolk transformed from a sleepy manufacturing and farming village to a bustling summer resort colony. This look back will surely bring a smile to your face and evoke memories from your own past!
From Solitude to Sisterhood: Norfolk Women and the Vote
2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. Though delayed by the pandemic, we are presenting an in-depth exhibition of how Norfolk women took up the challenge of equal voting rights. Some pro-suffrage and some very influential citizens were against it. The museum is open Friday from 2:00 to 5:00 PM and Saturday & Sunday from 1:00 - 4:00 PM until October 11th.
“Few persons in the whole history of the town, regardless of name, race, color or condition have been more respected and loved than was ‘Aunt Bilhah’ Freedom.” So wrote Theron Crissey in his History of Norfolk. When this much-loved black woman died, townsfolk placed a marble monument at her grave with this inscription: Of African and princely descent. Of queenly yet deferential demeanour. Greatly respected and beloved.The black history of a town is often an unwritten one. In 1900, however, Theron Crissey devoted a chapter of his book to Norfolk’s African Americans, giving us the chance to look more closely at their history.
The great book collections assembled and dispersed by Norfolk's Battell, Eldridge, and Robbins families in the period 1790–1930 contributed to the golden age of book collecting, a time period described and celebrated by English librarian Thomas Didbin in his 1809 " Bibliomania" (book-madness, or uncontrollable passion for books). Although Didbin's volume is a satire pretending to offer a "cure" for book-disease, his writing on the subject did much to popularize book collecting as a pastime. The exhibit will feature never-before-displayed items from the combined collections of rare books at the Norfolk Library and the Norfolk Historical Society (and possibly White House), giving valuable insight into the lives lived by the Norfolkians whose cabinet collections contained these "imagined" antiquarianisms.
Our 2019 summer season featuring the exhibition An Extraordinary Legacy: The Photographs of Marie Hartig Kendall ~ Part II kicks off with a members opening on June 1 from 4:00 to 7:30 p.m. Many new photographs and objects have been added to this year's exhibition, which will engage both the returning visitor and those new to the museum. These include a rare photograph printed on glass, which was made to hang in a window; dozens of Kendall postcards that were recently acquired from a local estate; and a look at the process of conservation period photographs. Also featured is the work of two female photographers, Carrie Smith Lorraine and Una Clingan Rands, both whom were working in neighboring towns during the 1890's. The museum is open weekends from June 2 to October 13 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
October 2018 - January 2019
Paperback Revolution: Norfolk's 'Modern Age Books' and how It changed the way America Reads
Modern Age Books, founded by Norfolk's Dick Childs in 1936, was one of the first publishers to produce paperback books in the United States. Modern Age issued progressive paperbacks in high print runs with low prices, making softcover books accessible to the pockets and purses of a new reading public. The exhibit will focus on how Childs made use of innovative illustration, printing, and distribution processes to help democratize American reading, writing, and publishing on the eve of the Second World War.
Photographer Marie Hartig Kendall chronicled the town of Norfolk, and its environs, in striking images just before and after the turn of the 20th century. Arriving in Norfolk in 1884, she avidly set about capturing the town and its inhabitants in all phases of life. Her images captured moving locomotives, historic weather events, economic development, and bucolic pastimes, as the once sleepy little village flourished into a summer resort at the turn of the century. The Norfolk Historical Society's 2018 exhibition will feature many of Marie's original photographs, including three large framed collections of photos that won her top honors at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Our 2018 Marie Kendall exhibition will run weekends 1:00 - 4:00PM June 2nd 2018 - Columbias Day.
One hundred years ago on April 6, 1917, the United States entered the Great War. Life in Norfolk quickly changed. The Norfolk unit of the Connecticut Home Guard mustered with 58 enlisted men. The Eldridge Gymnasium (now Town Hall) became an armory and the setting for outdoor drills with a rifle range set up on the rocky ledge behind Fox Hill, home of the Bridgman family on Litchfield Road. Dr. Dennis offered the use of his hilltop bungalow as an observation station and four acres of land for the cultivation of crops. Throughout the war, Norfolk was active on the home front with women sewing surgical dressings, knitting hospital garments, and canning for food conservation. Fund-raising drives, rummage sales, and benefit entertainments became monthly events. 79 young men and one woman from Norfolk served in the military. Eight lost their lives.
The exhibition Norfolk in the Great War documents activities in Norfolk on the home front as well as the thoughts and experiences of Norfolk servicemen and women through diaries, letters written home from the front lines, and military service questionnaires completed by war veterans. There are also stories about Norfolk men who played a pivotal role during the war, men such as Frederic Walcott who traveled to Poland in 1916 as a member of the United States Commission and wrote about the devastation and decimation of the Polish people. And there is the unique story of the Norfolk man who was impersonated by a German spy. A collection of stunning original World War I posters is featured in the exhibition.
The exhibition opens Saturday, May 27, and is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 to 4:00 pm until Columbus Day.
The 2016 exhibition highlights a remarkable group of public buildings commissioned by Norfolk’s civic-minded patrons in the period 1880-1930, especially the details of their stunning artistry and craftsmanship. The exhibition coincides with several present-day restoration projects of some of Norfolk’s public building fabric.