Three hundred and seventy-five years of history come to life at the New Haven Museum. From the colony’s founding as a puritan village through its growth into a major industrial center and now a thriving metropolitan area, New Haven’s history is brought to life for our visitors, inspiring a rich appreciation of the City’s past, present, and future.
In 1638, English Puritans established the New Haven Colony, which soon included what are now the towns of New Haven, Branford, Guilford, Milford, and Stamford, as well as Southold on Long Island. The settlers planned their town around a grid of nine squares centered on the Meeting House on the Green, a distinctive geographic feature of the city today.
During the 19th century, New Haven evolved from a quiet farming and seafaring town into an important industrial center. Eli Whitney, Charles Goodyear and Oliver Winchester are counted among New Haven’s prominent inventors and industrialists.
In 1862, a group of New Haven’s civic leaders organized the New Haven Colony Historical Society (today known as the New Haven Museum) to preserve the documents and artifacts of their community in a time of war and rapid change. The founders immediately began collecting furniture, paintings, photographs, manuscripts, books and ephemera, looking back over 200 years to the establishment of the Colony.
In order to house its extensive and growing museum and library collections, the Society constructed its present building in 1930. Designed by J. Frederick Kelly, the colonial revival building is located in a National Register Historic District, three blocks from the Green.