By Ed Harris
Visitors to the Barnes Museum can take a walk through yesteryear, thanks to the thousands of photographs that decorate the 14 Christmas trees situated throughout the home. The Barnes’ annual holiday display is open to the public beginning with Hospitality Night festivities this evening.
Barnes Curator Marie Secondo said the museum’s photo collection exceeded 10,000 prints, with some dating back to the late 1800s. Secondo estimated that about 2,000 of the photos will be on display as part of the holiday festivities.
“I like to use the collection and show off what we have in the museum,” Secondo said. “It’s a great way to show people what we have in the museum.”
Each of the museum’s 17 rooms will have various themes, with photos and other artifacts highlighting them. For instance, the dining room will sport photos highlighting the town and the music room will have photos of notable people in the town’s history. Many of the town’s streets are named after the people on the notable tree, Secondo said.
Christmas trees in other rooms will highlight the Barnes family, automobiles and women’s hats.
“The photos we have in our collection are amazing,” Secondo said. “Many of these photos are from as early as photos began.”
One such photo, of Clifford Upson, from the 1890s, showcases how difficult photography was in its infancy. The photo shows Upson holding two puppies in the photo, one of which is blurry. This is because people used to have to sit still for several minutes for the photograph to be properly exposed.
The photographs and holiday themes will be on display at the museum through the second week of January.
On Hospitality Night, the Barnes will have free torus from 4:30-8:30 p.m. and offer free cider, donated by Shop Rite. The Southington Chamber Singers will also perform.
The three hours of Hospitality Night are typically filled with potential activities for visitors. The First Congregational Church will host its annual auction, horse-drawn carriage rides will take riders through downtown Southington and Santa Claus visits with children at the Bank of America.
Hospitality Night is supervised each year by the Merchants of Downtown Southington organization. Many of the businesses in the area open their doors and offer food and often entertainment.
“The merchant walk is the biggest event,” said Gifts in a Basket owner Renee Belanger, who is coordinating the event for the second year. “We give everyone a map.”
Belanger explained that 18 businesses are participating in the merchant walk, where residents can collect stamps from the various stores. At the end of the night, the stamped maps can be used in a drawing for donated prizes.
Hospitality Night runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7.