Browse Exhibits (8 total)

Connecticut, 1940: Farms, Factories, and the Photographs of Jack Delano

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In 1940 and ‘41, photographer Jack Delano (1914–1997) documented farm and city life in Connecticut for the Farm Security Administration. In rare early color photographs as well as black-and-white images, Delano captured views of Connecticut as it recovered from the Great Depression, showing views of farmers, factory workers, and commuters. Born in Ukraine, Delano emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1923 and studied art and music at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. A musician and composer as well as a photographer, Delano traveled throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico as a FSA photographer before serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war, he settled with his wife Irene in Puerto Rico, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Fairfield's Fairways: 120 Years of Golf

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Golf has deep roots in Fairfield, going back to the 1890s, when the sport was just becoming a national obsession. Country clubs – Brooklawn Country Club, the Country Club of Fairfield and the Patterson Club – provided the space for golf to flourish, while public courses later opened up the sport to others in the community. From these roots, Fairfield’s fairways have produced star golfers: among them, the early women’s golf champion Georgiana Bishop, internationally renowned players Gene Sarazen and Julius Boros, and today’s champions J. J. Henry and Heather Daly-Donofrio.

This exhibition celebrates the tradition of golf in Fairfield, exploring the evolution of its clubs and courses over the past 120 years and highlighting the achievements of some of Fairfield’s champion golfers, the work of notable course designers, and the significant tournaments that have taken place here.

 

Special thanks to: 

Brooklawn Country Club, Fairchild Wheeler Golf Course, H. Smith Richardson Golf Course, The Country Club of Fairfield, The Patterson Club, Connecticut State Golf Association, and the United States Golf Association, Museum and Archives, Far Hills, New Jersey

 

Growing Up In Fairfield

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What was it like to grow up in Fairfield in past generations? How has childhood changed over time?

This exhibition looks back at the experience of growing up from the 1940s and 1950s—when the idea of the teenage years as a distinct phase of life first took shape—to the decades that followed. To provide more historical perspective, the exhibition also includes items from the 1800s, showing how nineteenth-century children’s lives compare to those we remember.

While each generation’s coming of age is shaped by the culture and events of its era, many elements of growing up in Fairfield have remained constant: the landscape of beach, woods, and hills; the schools and organizations focused on children; and the places and businesses that became part of daily life. 

Setting the Stage in the 1940s and 1950s

In the post-World War II period, Fairfield grew faster than at any other time in its history, more than doubling in population, as families from Bridgeport and elsewhere were drawn to the town’s suburban lifestyle and quiet neighborhoods. New developments in prefabrication, which reduced the cost of housing, along with government-subsidized mortgages, made it possible for many more people to afford a home in Fairfield.

Around the country, a unique combination of historical circumstances—the baby boom, the affluence of the postwar years, and the migration of thousands of young families—helped create a culture focused on children. Parents whose own childhood had been marked by war and insecurity were intent on giving their children a protected environment and the freedom to enjoy childhood’s pleasures.

During this time, the word “teenager” first came into use. Sharing the common experience of high school, teens developed an identity separate from that of their families, with clothing styles, music, and slang all their own. The teen culture they developed set the pattern for the generations that followed.  

 

Growing up in Fairfield was on view at the Fairfield Museum from July 3- October 2, 2014.

Mobilizing the Homefront: Posters from World War II

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During World War II, the U.S. government used posters to rally support for the war and convince Americans that an all-out effort at home was necessary to win the military campaign abroad. At a time when media was primarily limited to radio, film, and prints, posters--cheap, colorful, and immediate--were one of the most efficient means to spread the government’s messages. Various government agencies employed the country’s top artists and illustrators to create strong imagery to persuade Americans to increase their productivity in factories, buy war bonds, and enlarge their wartime responsibilities. In effect, every American, whether soldier or civilian, was enlisted to help win the war.

Although posters by their very nature are intended to be ephemeral--disposed of after display--many World War II images have endured, and speak to the issues we still face today: of sacrifice, responsibility, and the use of limited resources. As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe, the posters on view in this gallery help us remember how Americans were urged to unite to meet the challenges of wartime. 

Mobilizing the Homefront: Posters from World War II was on view at the Fairfield Museum from January 16 - May 10, 2015.

Picturing Fairfield: The Photographs of Mabel Osgood Wright

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Mabel Osgood Wright (1859-1934) always preferred the country to the city. As a child growing up in New York City, Wright savored the summers she spent at Mosswood, her family’s retreat in rural Fairfield, and made it her permanent home in 1884 after she married. Living at a time when the United States was rapidly shifting from an agrarian to an industrial and urban country, Wright became an avid conservationist, making the preservation of New England’s wildlife and countryside her life’s work. From her home in Fairfield, Wright wrote popular field guides on local wildlife, helped establish the Connecticut Audubon Society, and founded Birdcraft Sanctuary as a refuge for birds in Fairfield.

From early on, photography was instrumental to Wright’s conservationist efforts, a means to document the disappearing landscape around her. Wright often turned her camera toward Fairfield, which at the turn of the twentieth century was just beginning to move away from its rural past and feel the effects of city life. At times nostalgic and sentimental, Wright’s photographs focus on Fairfield’s homes, gardens, people, and the local countryside and present Fairfield as a traditional New England town. At a time when many writers and thinkers were increasingly worried that the nation was losing its “rural virtue” to the growth of the city, Wright’s photographs portray Fairfield as an ideal suburb, an antidote to what she viewed as the “whirpool” of city life. 

 

This exhibition was on view at the Fairfield Museum in 2014. 

 

Rising Tides: Fairfield’s Coast - Past to Future

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Fairfield has always been a coastal community, although we have looked at the coast differently over time: as a place of natural abundance, an opportunity for travel and commerce, and a landscape of beauty and recreation. The coast has changed over time too, and rising sea levels will require us to adapt to new ways of living on the shoreline.  

This exhibition was on view at the Fairifeld Museum from September 2016-March 2017, and won an award from the American Association for State and Local History in 2017. Special thanks to the Connecticut Audubon Society, the Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA), The Nature Conservancy of Connecticut, Tom Steinke, and the Town of Fairfield.

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Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

This exhibition explores how the changing culture and politics of the 1960s and 1970s touched people in our local area. Events on the national stage – such as the civil rights movement,  the assassinations of public figures, the war in Vietnam, the women's movement, urban riots and campus unrest, the space program, and Watergate  – echoed in the lives of people in and around Fairfield. The music and culture of this era, along with its political and social transformations, helped shape the world we still live in today. 

"Talkin' 'Bout My Generation" was on view from March 31-September 17, 2017 at the Fairfield Museum. 

Wonder Women of Fairfield

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Women have played a key role in shaping the community of Fairfield and beyond over the years. Past generations of women faced many barriers to taking a place in public life: in the nineteenth century they were barred from voting, higher education and the most respected professions. In the twentieth century, women’s choices continued to be limited, and it was rare to see a woman executive, senator, doctor, or professional athlete.  

Despite these barriers, women found opportunities to contribute to the community and the nation. The Fairfield women presented here are just some of the many women from the area who left a mark through their public achievements in politics, business, community service, and entertainment.  By reaching beyond the expectations of their times, they created not only new paths for themselves, but also new opportunities for the women who would follow. 

Wonder Women of Fairfield was on view at the Fairfield Museum from February 27-April 28, 2014.