Browse Exhibits (15 total)

An American Story: Finding Home in Fairfield County

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They have no idea what it is like to lose home at the risk of never finding home again, have your entire life split between two lands and become the bridge between two countries.  Rupi KaurMilk and Honey (2014) 

This exhibition provides an intimate look at the stories of refugees and immigrants who have come to this area from Cambodia, Congo, Cuba, Hungary, India, Rwanda, and Syria, seeking safety and opportunity like generations of immigrants before them. Although their journeys have been quite different, the individuals featured here share the experience of rebuilding their lives and finding new homes in the Fairfield area. Despite the difficult paths that brought them here, as their stories portray, they each possess remarkable optimism and determination. Many have also been moved by a desire to help other immigrants and to educate the communities in which they live about their experiences 

This exhibition honors the 100th anniversary of the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, founded in 1918 to help new Americans in their journey to finding home in Fairfield County.   

Photographs by Caren Winnall 
Special thanks to Lynne Penczer

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

 

Flappers, Fashion and Freedom

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The year 1920 marked a watershed in the ongoing struggle for American women’s equality, as women secured the right to vote and claimed full citizenship alongside men. As they moved increasingly into colleges, workplaces, and public life, a new generation sought further social freedoms to move, dress, and behave as they pleased.

The "New Woman" of the 1920s rejected the earlier generation's rules and conventions. For guidance, she looked beyond her mother and grandmothers - to the rising stars of Hollywood, magazines, and advertisements - to define what it meant to be a modern woman.

The flapper was her name.

She embraced the new styles of shorter skirts and bobbed hair, frequented dance halls and speakeasies, and flouted earlier standards of social behaviors. Driving cars, smoking, and dancing, she represented the "New Woman's" search for freedom.

The flapper was as much cultural style as a reality, and not all women took on her glamorous and rebellious identity. However, women across social lines embraced the fashions of flappers and in doing so, embodied the new ideals of modern womanhood. 

Nearly a hundred years later, we are drawn to the fashion and carefree spirit of the 1920s flapper. We also inherit the internal contradictions that she faced as we continue to seek and advance American women's equality.

This exhibition was presented from August 2018 through January 2019, with generous support from Connecticut Humanities

From the Ground Up

The food we eat helps define us, connecting our cultural traditions and our local landscapes, as well as the wider global economies of which we are a part.  This family-friendly exhibition will explore the stories behind different foods and how they have shaped Fairfield and our region’s identity throughout history.  Explore the kitchen with a closer look into ingredients from the farmers’ fields, the ocean, and the forest, and share your own special food memories.  

“The food you have at home grows on you and becomes more important than simply the food itself. It becomes associated with all parts of your life in a very deep way, part of your roots, your inner self.”   
- Jacques Pepin (Madison, Connecticut).  

“We all have hometown appetites – every other person is a bundle of longing for the simplicities of good taste once enjoyed on the farm or in the hometown left behind.”  
-Clementine Paddleford, How America Eats, 1960 

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.

Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight

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Gustave Whitehead, a German immigrant experimented with flight at the beginning of the 20th century. In 2013, the aviation "bible" Jane's All About Aircraft concluded from a study of the evidence (long debated) that Whitehead made powered flights two years before the Wright brothers, in the summer of 1901, in Fairfield, Bridgeport, and Stratford, Connecticut.

Following Jane's recognition, Governor Malloy signed into law on June 25th a bill that included recognition of Gustave Whitehead as the first man to achieve successful powered flight. Per the text of the bill, in Connecticut "Powered Flight Day" will now be celebrated to honor Gustave Whitehead rather than the Wright Brothers. For more information, see coverage by The Economist.

The Fairfield Museum’s library contains copies of the books by O’Dwyer and Randolph that present their research , which are now out of print, as well as the William O’Dwyer Gustave Whitehead Research Collection, which contains photographs, newspaper articles, and correspondence about Whitehead’s flights.

 

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Local Heroes: What’s Your Emergency?

This family-friendly exhibition takes visitors through the story of a local Nor’easter, and how Fairfield’s local heroes, our first responders, team up to keep our communities and residents safe.  

With the threat of high winds, flooding, loss of power, and other challenges that Nor'easters bring, Fairfield’s emergency services employees are well-trained to work together to proactively assist and provide resources in these difficult, and often surprising, storm situations.   

Through illustrated scenes by Fairfield County illustrator and artist Christine Kornacki, the exhibition’s story introduces family visitors to the childlike anticipation and excitement of a snowstorm, followed by the reality of storm preparations, both at home and with the local leadership of Fairfield’s emergency services team. With interactive components, families can learn together how to address and prepare for emergency situations, as well as acquaint themselves with the town’s Emergency Management Team. The story shares how the Team works together, what happens when the nor’easter brings an emergency situation, and the support citizens receive when dialing 9-1-1. The exhibition addresses the different ways that the Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works, and Community Emergency Response Team help to keep Fairfield residents and town services managed and safe.  

The exhibition’s illustrated story integrates a fictional nor’easter with images and artifacts of Fairfield's historic and contemporary first responders. Items on display will include photographs of past storm responses, including the infamous Halloween nor’easter (2011), Superstorm Sandy (2012) and the damaging hurricanes of 1938, 1954-55, and 1960. Emergency equipment and tools, personal uniforms and accessories, local oral histories and scrapbooks from the Museum’s collection and outside loans from both the Fairfield police and fire departments, will help to highlight just how important emergency support services are in Fairfield – and how they have changed over time. 

Make Your Mark

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On walls, on objects, on the human body, on paper…what does it mean to stamp your label, leave a paint stroke, sign your name, or sew a stitch?

The deep human need to leave a mark on the things we make and the places we live has been a constant throughout history, though the form it takes varies widely. This exhibition explores how people – whether quilters, silversmiths, graffiti artists or painters - leave their creative marks on their communities. Past craftspeople, leaders, and ordinary people left marks behind on their creations, demonstrating pride in their accomplishments and documenting their social connections. Contemporary artists today also seek to leave a lasting impression and even transform communities through their works of art.

This exhibit was on view from February 14 - September 15, 2019.

With special thanks to Theodore Bresky, Frankie Frieri, John Paul O’Grodnick, Seth Kaller Inc., and Liz Squillace.

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.