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Gunn Historical Museum

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Gunn Historical Museum
5 Wykeham Road
P.O. Box 1273
Washington, CT 06793
Telephone: 860-868-7756
     Museum Hours:
Thursday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Sundays 12 noon to 4:00 p.m. (through Jan. 18)

Stephen Bartkus, Curator gunnmuseum@sbcglobal.net
Alexandra Madsen, Curatorial Assistant

  • All of our programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise stated.
  • There is no admission charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.
  • We would be happy to help with your research, but our other commitments
        require that you make an appointment at least three weeks in advance.

  • Exhibits & Programs


    Over There: Washington and The Great War

    May 4, 2014 - January 18, 2015

    This exhibition commemorates the 100th anniversary of World War One, one of the largest and bloodiest conflicts in history, where over 70 million military personnel were mobilized around the world and more than 10 million combatants and 7 million civilians were killed, including several from Washington, CT. Over 100 men and women from Washington, and more than 150 alumni and faculty from The Gunnery served in The Great War. Students in Bart McMann's Artifacts and Archives class at The Gunnery conducted research on their school’s involvement in the war and share their findings in a section of this exhibit.

    Letters, pictures, and an interesting array of period artifacts from the museum, local families, and collectors, including Peter Tragni and Dr. Robert Jacobs, among others, are used to explore the dramatic experiences of Washington's soldiers, along with the extensive support efforts that were happening on the home front in Washington through such organizations as the Sister Susie Society, the Red Cross, the Women's Land Army, and the Home Guard. All of their fascinating stories will be shared in this exhibit and a diverse series of public programs (see below) through the year, sponsored in part by the Connecticut Community Foundation.

    Art director Chris Zaima, designer Sandy Booth, and painter Keith Templeton, along with a team of other volunteers and staff, have created another visual masterpiece. Local history will come alive as visitors step back in time and explore the lives of Washington's residents during World War One, through their own words, and the impact this war had on our small town.

    Admission to the exhibit is free, and this exhibit will be on display through January 18, 2015. For more information, call the Museum at 860-868-7756 or view www.gunnlibrary.org for more information or emailgunnmuseum@sbcglobal.net.

    Sister Susies on Washington Green - The Allied Market Fundraiser - August 5, 1916
    Readings from the Archives:
    The Sister Susie Society 1914-1918
    Monday, May 5 at 10:00 a.m. at the Washington Senior Center

    Prior to World War I a group of girls living around Washington Green met weekly during the summer at each other's houses for a morning of reading and sewing. They were known as the Junior Reading Circle. With the outbreak of the war they started working for the Allies sewing refugee garments and surgical dressings and renamed themselves "The Sister Susie Society", from the popular war song "Sister Susies Sewing Shirts for Soldiers". This paper, written by Dorothy Abbot Loomis and Edith Rossiter Bevan in 1930, discusses the members of this group and all that they did to support the war effort in Washington. Staff will present this paper about the history of Washington from the Museum's archive, related photographs and artifacts from the Museum will be displayed, and attendees will share their memories in a discussion that follows. The Washington Senior Center is located at 6 Bryan Hall Plaza in the center of Washington Depot.

    Sunday, May 18 at 1:00 p.m. at the Gunn Library and Museum
    To End All Wars: Music of World War One

    Rick Spencer will perform both well-known and obscure songs of the period along with a discussion of the issues, events, and personalities of First World War. 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of World War One, which claimed over 10 million lives and came to be called "The War to End All Wars". The folk and popular songs of the period were patriotic and inspiring. Some were filled with pathos, describing tragedy, loss, and the fears and hopes of those who were affected.

    Rick Spencer has been in the historical performance industry for over 25 years. He worked for 20 years as a researcher, historian and presenter of traditional maritime songs and sea chanteys at Mystic Seaport and has performed widely in the United States, Canada and Europe. Rick is best known for his work as a developer and presenter of theme-based historic music programs. He is the former executive director and curator of the Dr. Ashbel Woodward Museum in Franklin, CT.

    Saturday, June 28 at 11:00 a.m. at the Gunn Library and Museum
    The Beginning of the End: The Origins of World War I

    Dr. Michael Nolan, a professor of European History at Western Connecticut State University, will present a lecture to mark the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austrian Empire, the spark that ignited World War One. On June 28, 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist who was a Black Hand Terrorist as they visited the city of Sarajevo. This assassination was the catalyst of World War One, a four-year event that claimed the lives of over 10 million soldiers and 7 million civilians around the globe. Dr. Nolan will discuss the contentious years leading up to the assassination, how the events of that day unfolded, the impact the resulting war had on the 20th century, and who was really to blame for the origins of the war, the answer to which is not as clear cut as many might think and has vexed historians for the past century. Dr. Nolan is a 2001 graduate of Brandeis University and is the author of The Inverted Mirror: Mythologizing the Enemy in France and Germany, 1898-1914 (New York, Berghahn Books, 2005).

    Mondays, July 14, July 28, August 11 & August 25 at 1:00 p.m.
    World War I Film Series at the Gunn Library

    2014 marks the 100th anniversary of World War One, one of the most significant conflicts in history, claiming millions of lives and altering the global balance of power. In support of the Museum's exhibit "Over There: Washington and the Great War," we'll screen a selection of some of the most popular World War I films at the library in the Wykeham Room, Mondays at 1:00 p.m. These films vividly represent different events of the war and its impact. The Museum's exhibition will be open for viewing before each screening. The screenings planned are:

    All programs are free and open to the public. Registration is requested.For more information, contact Margaret Ferguson at 860-868-7586 or gunnprograms@biblio.org.

    Museum Programs at the Washington Senior Center

    Readings from the Archives

    Gunn Museum Curator Stephen Bartkus presents coffee hour readings from the archives of the Museum on the first Monday of the month at 10:00 a.m. from October to May, in the Washington Senior Center. A paper about the history of Washington from the Museum's archive is read, related photographs and artifacts from the Museum are displayed, and attendees share their memories in a discussion that follows.

    Washington History Club

    The Washington History Club meets at the Washington Senior Center on the third Monday of the month at 10:00 a.m., typically from September to June, to discuss the history of Washington and the villages of New Preston, Marbledale and Woodville. Participants are asked to bring their photographs and objects that relate to the monthly topic for show and tell. Everyone interested in the history of our town is invited to attend the meetings and share their memories.

    The Washington Senior Center is located at 6 Bryan Hall Plaza in the center of Washington Depot and can be reached at 860-868-0735.

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