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Joseph Steward Museum of Curiosities


Old State House

Old State House

What:Building /
Address: Third floor of the Old State House, 800 Main St, , CT 06103
Phone: (860) 522-6766
Hours: M-F; 9am-5pm
Description: A recreation of Joseph Steward’s “Museum of Natural and Other Curiosities”, which was located in the Old State House from the 1790’s to the early 1800’s.

His collection included portraits, wax works, and other curiosities. Natural curiosities included a heron, a hummingbird, crystals, ores, stalactites, petrifactions, sea shells, an elephant, a baboon, a sagacious goat, a dwarf cow, and a two-headed calf; man-made curiosities included a pagoda, and an organ.

In November, 1808, Joseph Steward’s collection of curiosities had outgrown the space available at the Old State House.   He moved his museum to a new building, which was located at the southeast corner of Main Street and Talcott Street in Hartford, CT.   The new museum officially opened on November 24, 1808. The hours were 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. “except the evening before and after the sabbath”.

After Joseph Steward’s death in 1822 the museum was relocated to 3 Central Row in Hartford, CT. (Some records indicate the address was 131 State Street, Hartford , CT. This location is the same as 3 Central Row). It reopened in the new location on January 6, 1824. Charles Dickerson became the proprietor of the museum at its new location. In 1832, Caleb Wright is known to be the proprietor. The collection remained intact until at least 1840. Some objects from the museum, including a number of portraits, were donated to the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, CT.

The Connecticut Historical Society created a recreation of the museum at the Old State House in Hartford. It is known as Joseph Steward Museum of Curiosities, and is open during regular building hours.

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