Friday Marks One Year Since Bridgeport Tornado

Barnum Museum - Bridgeport, CT - Jun 21, 2011 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

Barnum Museum – Bridgeport, CT – Jun 21, 2011 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

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BRIDGEPORT, CT (WCBS 880) – A year ago Friday, a tornado roared through Bridgeport, heavily damaging, among other things, the Barnum Museum.

“We were just about to open a brand new exhibition,” says Kathleen Maher, executive director of the museum.

The wind blew glass into the folds of nineteenth century circus costumes.

Water blistered gilded frames, and the lacquer on Tom Thumb’s coach.

Tiny slivers of glass still glisten on the carpets and they’re still evaluating the ornate dome.

“A year later we’re close to really figuring out the magnitude of the damage,” she says.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane In Bridgeport

Maher says high-rise downtown architecture may have funneled the winds around the building that Barnum built himself.

“Interestingly, the Barnum Museum has become a resource for disasters. There have been tornadoes everywhere,” she says.

They’re working with Yale University to develop a program for institutions in times of disaster.

Barnum himself was a disaster victim. His American museum burned to the ground 150 years ago.

For this institution, this may be a $17 million recovery.