Journal Article

P. T. Barnum, Jumbo the Elephant, and the Barnum Museum of Natural History at Tufts University

Andrew McClellan

in Journal of the History of Collections

Volume 24, issue 1, pages 45-62
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0954-6650
Published online February 2011 | e-ISSN: 1477-8564 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhr001
P. T. Barnum, Jumbo the Elephant, and the Barnum Museum of Natural History at Tufts University

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In 1883, the great showman P. T. Barnum agreed to build an eponymous museum of natural history on the campus of Tufts University, which he had served as a founding trustee. After a long career managing dime museums and a travelling circus, Barnum hoped to secure a positive legacy through the creation of an unambiguously serious institution. In addition to building and collections funds, Barnum supplied the Tufts museum – as well as the Smithsonian and American Museum of Natural History in New York – with exotic and valuable dead animals from his circus. Barnum brought his influence to bear on the latter two in order to develop his museum at Tufts. His greatest prize was Jumbo the Elephant, whose skin and bones were involved in a contentious tug-of-war among the three museums following his death in a train accident in 1885.

Journal Article.  10273 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; History of Art ; Social and Cultural History

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