Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Phineas Taylor Barnum's American Museum 1842 to 1868 Phineas Barnum Taylor was an American born in 1810 in Connecticut, and died in 1891. Barnum founded the first public museum and formed the modern day three ring circus. He gets remembered as a showman, entertainer and scam artist…
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While in New York, Barnum purchased a museum and renamed it after himself. With the museum, Barnum found a platform which he used to promote hoaxes and human curiosities. Barnum began his entertainment career in New York. Barnum gets credited for revolutionizing and legitimizing spectacle. Barnum purchased and exhibited the Joice Heth. Joice Heth was an almost paralyzed and blind slave woman (Barnum and Cook 108). Barnum claimed the woman to have been over 160 years old and a supposed nurse to George Washington. Thousands got drawn to view Heith by paying an admission price. He toured the south with a small circus between 1836 and 1837. This circus tour appeared to be preparation for him to purchase his own museum with which he made a fortune. In 1841, he bought the Scudder American museum which he renamed to Barnum American museum. Barnum upgraded the museum building and added more exhibits making the museum a popular showplace in the process. Barnum added flags to the roof edge of the museum, and this helped attract attention during the day. A strolling garden got made out of the roof during the upgrade. The place then got lit up with limelight, which had just become invented then. His main idea revolved around making the museum an advertisement in itself. In the museum, Barnum filled it with a surfeit of exhibits and activities. Exhibits and activities within the museum revolved around panoramas, dioramas, scientific instruments and modern appliances. Through the museum, Barnum got to introduce his first major hoax which became known as the Feejee mermaid (Barnum 56). The Feeje mermaid was a creature that had the tail of a fish and a monkey’s head. Barnum justified hoaxes such as this claiming they were advertisements used to draw attention to the museum. The museum also exhibited a dwarf named general Tom Thumb. The dwarf got claimed to be the smallest person walking the earth, and he got used to amuse the public. The museum also exhibited a number of exotic animals that included beluga whales, a hat claimed to be worn by Ulysses Grant, a tree trunk where Jesus and his disciples sat, giants, fat boys, a dog that could knit, flea circus and performances by magicians and fortune tellers, Uncle Tom’s cabin and minstrel adaptations of biblical tales. The museum gets reported to have received over 38milion visitors between 1841 and 1865. Visitors got charged a twenty five cent admission charge. The visitors got to view a revolving set of attractions at the museum (Cottrell 19). Barnum’s credit to show business gets associated with professionalism, public relations through advertisements and quality. Characters that provided dubious shows got thrown out of Barnum American museum. Barnum defended his hoax shows by claiming that the public had to first get attracted to the museum, and then later get provided with sensational entertainment while in the museum building. Barnum used newspaper advertisements and handbills to promote the museum (Barnum and Cook 88). The museum not only provided shows but also educational teachings. The museum’s theater which got known as the ‘lecture room’ got used by Barnum in providing temperance reforms and Shakespearean dramas. Barnum gets recognized by early historians as instrumental in the development of urban culture in the nineteenth century. The museum became the first of its kind in offering entertainment and amusement together with moral uplift and
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