Share this post

Just off Bristol, CT there’s over 100 years of carousel art and history on view throughout the 33,000 square foot building with examples from turn of the century carvers like Dentzel, Herschell Spillman and Stein & Goldstein, and a fully operational Venetian indoor carousel. I stopped by the museum to see what carousel figures are made of and was stunned to discover one of the largest collections of its kind: horses, lions, dolphins among them.

In the old days, all carousel animals were carved out of solid wood; those were entirely discontinued in the 1930s and replaced by easier to care for hollow aluminum and fiberglass figures. Almost all wooden carousel horses today are made of Philippine mahogany or other soft tropical woods. This wood is easily chipped and shows radial cracks.

Venetian indoor carousel
Restoration studio

On Saturday, March 25th, 7:30 stop by for a swing inside the Carousel Museum’s ballroom with Al Fenton Big Band, a 21-member brass ensemble directed by saxophonist Kathy Neri. Info and tickets.

Further learning

  1. Marsha A. Schloesser on the construction of carousel horses
  2. The Great American Carousel by Tobin Fraley
  3. The Carousel News & Trader Magazine archives
  4. Carver Tim Gorka on carving a carousel figure
Covers of The Carousel News & Trader Magazine

New England Carousel Museum
95 Riverside Ave, Bristol, CT (Map it)
Open Wednesday—Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission fee $6

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter

Share this post

Designer & photographer based in New York City