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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Mattatuck Museum - Waterbury, Connecticut

The Mattatuck Museum Arts & History Center, on The Green in Waterbury, Connecticut, showcases art and history, with a particular emphasis on Connecticut’s cultural past. The rare melding of art and history, and community, tells the story of the region, and of Waterbury, in a profound and valuable way.

The history exhibit, with changing displays, carries us from the 1600s through the industrial dynamo years of the late 1800s through the middle part of the 20th century, when Waterbury found itself a manufacturing bastion. We are taken through the years, socially, economically, and politically, right up to today, and see connections and timelines that continue to morph the community.

Along with products of the mills, experience the frightening 1955 Flood. In one display case, among notable persons from Waterbury, you’ll find the graceful, confident expression of Rosalind Russell captured in a sculpture. For more on Roz, as well as her own exploits during the 1955 Flood, have a look here at my Another Old Movie Blog.

In the art gallery are examples by John Trumbull, Frederick Church, Charles Ethan Porter, and many other 19th and 20th century artists, and contemporary artists as well.

Stepping back to Waterbury’s industrial heritage again, the museum also houses the Button Museum, a unique attraction. The variety of buttons represent tiny works of art in many materials, including examples from Asia, military buttons, Bakelite buttons from the 1930s, and four engraved buttons from the coat of General George Washington.

The collection was originally part of the Waterbury Button Company, which had made buttons here since 1812, and given to the museum by the Waterbury Companies, which succeeded the Waterbury Button Company.

This museum is Waterbury in microcosm, and other communities looking to establish museums preserving their regional culture and history would do well to visit The Mattatuck Museum.

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