A Note From The Executive Director About Re-Opening

Like you, we thrive on the personal interaction that comes with a face to face museum experience. We love nothing more than sharing our passion for history—and bringing it to life—for our patrons from this community and beyond. As museums and cultural institutions around Connecticut are beginning to re-open our visitors have asked us: When will I be able to visit Westport Museum again? The exciting news is that our Virtual Museum initiative—created to respond to COVID– has allowed us to focus on engaging the public in a way that we never have before, reaching thousands of people weekly and growing. The sad news is that we will be remaining closed—not because we want to, but because we have to. Why? The reasons are several:  Even though our state has happily seen a decrease in COVID cases, our museum is housed in an antique building with small rooms and an aged HVAC system. While we follow strict guidelines for surface decontamination, mask and glove protocols, and staggered scheduling for staff working in the building, our space is without air filtration or the cross-ventilation needed to host more than one or two visitors at a time. Another, equally pressing, reason to remain closed relates to the internal structure of the Bradley-Wheeler House in which the museum is maintained.  At the current time, there is a major structural failure in the center of the building that was left unaddressed for many years and exacerbated by aspects of the way the building was used. This failure was re-identified one year ago during a grant-funded building and collections assessment and we have spent the last twelve months working toward remediation. It will take will take a lot of time and a lot of financial resources to ultimately fix. We will be sharing more details about this …

At This Crossroad of History, Which Path Will You Follow?

As modern historians, we try to examine history in a holistic way, looking at all sides, examining all perspectives. To do this, we use primary source information for fact-based story telling. Unlike in the past, where history was the story of the victors, we strive to present history in neutral terms presenting artifacts from an earlier time to objectively inform our decisions in the future.   The recent protests over the murder of George Floyd–an unarmed Black father—by Minneapolis police has made it clear that in order to gain a truly holistic picture of the past we must now put neutrality aside.   We must examine our failures in achieving a just and fair society both as a nation and in each and every town within that nation.  We must admit to these failures and to the fact that they have informed the times in which we live today—times that are too often unjust and inequitable especially for communities of color.  Black Americans continue to have dramatically fewer educational, economic, housing and healthcare opportunities than their white counterparts.  According to the NAACP, although African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015. The New York Times reports that data from Minneapolis indicates that the police force used brutality against Black people seven times more than it did for whites. It is a pattern that exists nationwide.  In 1968, following a year of dramatic protest and unrest in the demand for Civil Rights, The Kerner Commission, empaneled by President Lyndon Johnson, noted the failure of the American system in its treatment of its Black Citizens.  The report clearly and unequivocally stated:   “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal… What white Americans have never fully understood but what the Negro can never forget — is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society …