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Barnum's American Museum, New York, c1853.
NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library
"In large calm halls, a stately Museum shall teach you the infinite lessons of minerals,
In another, woods, plants, vegetation shall be illustrated -- in another animals, animal life and development."
- Song of the Exposition (more...)

Long before he went into the circus business, showman P. T. Barnum opened this museum, in 1841. Barnum took a highbrow/lowbrow approach to attract paying customers at 25 cents a head. His five-story building housed educational exhibits, as well as sensational physical oddities including, in Barnum's words, "whales, giants, dwarfs, Albinoes, dog shows, et cetera." Whitman interviewed Barnum for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1846.










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