Current Exhibitions

Capitol America

On view through June 30, 2017


As all states have their own character, so, too, do their capitol buildings. New Haven Museum’s newest exhibit, “Capitol America,” includes photographs of the nation’s capitol buildings, many of them sites of both architectural beauty and historical conflict. A project by New Haven professional photographers Robert Lisak and David Ottenstein, the show will open on Thursday, January 26, 2017, with a reception at 5:30 p.m.

“Capitol America” is a show of contrasts—black and white, light and dark, everyday function and Gilded-Age splendor—with large-format photographs encircling the New Haven Museum’s own rotunda. The “secular, civic temples” featured in the photographs range in style and feeling from classical elegance, to robber-baron ostentation, to practical simplicity, reflecting the historical moment in which they were built—often during times of budgetary excess or restraint—and something of the nature of the people of the state. The exhibition explores the history and nature of the continually evolving American experience through the architecture, artifacts and furnishings within and without the halls of governance.

About the Artists
David Ottenstein has worked as a free-lance photographer in New Haven, since 1982. His commercial work includes architectural, product, editorial and people photography on location and in the studio. His interest in American history and culture is reflected in his fine art/documentary work, and led him to photograph interiors of decaying industrial buildings in the northeast U.S., to the Midwest, and more recently, to the mountains and Great Plains of the American West. Photographs from these projects are part of the Western Americana Collection at Yale University’s Beinecke Library, the Permanent Collection of Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of American Art, Kansas City, Missouri and the New Britain Museum of American Art, among others. He received a degree from Yale University in American studies with a concentration in photography.

Robert Lisak is a photographer and videographer based in New Haven. He has done a wide range of work for commercial, architectural, and non-profit clients, as well as pursuing his personal work for more than 25 years. He is a member of the American Society of Media Photographers and has an MFA in photography from the Yale University School of Art. He taught photography for more than 20 years at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he created the digital photography courses in the Media Studies Department.


Capitol America: Places Where Democracy Happens 

Thursday, April 20 at 5:30 pm 

Join us for a talk with photographers Robert Lisa and David Ottenstein, as they share tales of how their project Capitol America was conceived and executed. See images not included in the exhibit, and hear how the two friends slowly grew to realize that the buildings they were documenting were more than just grand architecture, they were “sites of rich and sometimes contradictory history, the places where democracy happens.”

Admission is free. Donations welcome.

Road Trip! 

On view through Summer 2017

Road Trip!

Remember the excitement of piling into the car and heading out on the open road with family or friends? Explore the fun and adventure of the all-American auto expedition during Road Trip!, New Haven Museum’s newest exhibition, through spring, 2017.

Whether you got your kicks on Route 66 or at Connecticut clam shacks, you’ll marvel at vintage souvenirs and memorabilia from across the U.S., and from some of Connecticut’s cherished roadside landmarks. You’ll also enjoy photos by architectural historian Richard Longstreth, who captured the iconic and often amusing designs of the diners, gas stations, motels, and roadside attractions that flourished on America’s back roads before the advent of the interstate highway.

Road Trip! also includes over 100 objects “crowdsourced” from New Haven residents, artifacts from the Connecticut Historical Society and Museum of Connecticut History, and a 1960s-inspired, turquoise-and-white diner booth specially built for the exhibit by the New England Seating Company. Read more…

From Clocks to Lollipops: Made in New Haven

On view through Summer 2017

clocks and lollipops

Elm City Pins Company Trade Card, circa 1876, lithograph on cardboard, Collection of New Haven Museum

From the Colonial era to the present day, New Haven has produced an astonishing variety of goods including hardware, carriages, automobile parts and accessories, firearms, corsets, clocks, carpeting, rubber overshoes, clothing, musical instruments, silver-plated wares, and candy ─ just to name a few!  Many of the City’s factories served a national and even international market. The harbor was an important avenue for bringing in coal, metals, cotton, and other raw materials.  Railroads brought improved distribution of goods. By 1849, New Haven would have direct rail service to America’s leading commercial center, New York City. Over the years, businesses founded in other communities in the 19th century, such as Chauncey Jerome Clocks in Bristol, Sargent & Company in New Britain, and L. Candee Rubber Company in Hamden, realized the advantages of relocating to New Haven. Today there are factories producing goods for the automobile, aerospace and electronics industries and foodstuffs, such as spaghetti sauce and breads.

More than one hundred objects, advertisements, trade cards, photographs and other items from the Museum’s collections are featured in this fascinating look at the production of consumer goods in New Haven, both handmade and factory made, over the past three hundred plus years. The show is organized by guest curator Elizabeth Pratt Fox.

Form and Function: Decorative Arts from the Collection

On view through Summer 2017


Form and Function: Decorative Arts from the Collection highlights a small selection from the renown collections of historic design and decorative arts at The New Haven Museum. Currently celebrating its 150th anniversary, the New Haven Museum has long been a repository for some of Connecticut’s decorative arts treasures. If aficionados are familiar with the magnificent colonial furniture, silver, and paintings in the Museum’s collection, its important holdings of nineteenth- and twentieth-century objects are less well known. In curating a new installation, guest curator Benjamin Colman wanted to create unexpected dialogues between objects made at different times in different media. Spanning from baroque-furniture to contemporary design, the pieces on view are arranged into four thematic groups: Politics, Childhood, Business, and Eclectic Homes. These objects were made with functional forms to serve a useful purpose. Yet in their exuberant designs and bold style, they also demonstrate the spirit of the individuals who created them, and the generations of people who used them.

Mr. Colman is Assistant Curator of the Florence Griswold Museum

Upcoming Events

Events on April 24, 2017
New Haven Museum CLOSED
Starts: 10:00 am
Ends: April 24, 2017 - 5:00 pm


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