New Haven Museum

The New Haven Museum, originally named the New Haven Colony Historical Society, was established in 1862 with the aim of collecting, preserving, and providing access to research materials that document the history of the greater New Haven area.

The New Haven Museum offers a deep dive into the history of New Haven and the surrounding region. From its colonial origins to its role in the American Revolutionary War, industrialization, and beyond, the museum’s exhibits provide insights into the city’s diverse and vibrant past.

The museum features a wide range of exhibits covering various aspects of New Haven’s history, including its maritime heritage, industrial development, cultural contributions, and social movements. Visitors can explore artifacts, documents, photographs, and interactive displays that bring the city’s history to life.

May 2024: The reconceived exhibition “Amistad: Retold” takes a new angle on the familiar story of the Amistad, centering the people who led the revolt and their collective actions to determine their own lives. It also foregrounds New Haven as the site of their incarceration and organizing by Black and white abolitionists. T

The 1839 Amistad Revolt was led by 53 West African captives who were being trafficked from Havana’s slave markets on the schooner La Amistad after being kidnapped from their homelands, despite European treaties prohibiting the Atlantic Slave Trade. The Museum notes the diversity of the Amistad captives—their multiethnic, multilingual, and economic backgrounds, with trades that ranged from rice farmer to blacksmith, in addition to weavers, hunters, and merchants.

Incarcerated for nearly 19 months in New Haven, the Amistad captives worked closely with anti-slavery activists who formed the Amistad Committee and connected with networks of engaged citizens to organize and fundraise for their legal defense. Artists, particularly those based in New Haven, gave representation to the movement by creating engravings and paintings that enabled the public to envision the circumstances of the captives and recognize their individuality and resolve in protecting their freedom. A number of those significant works made their way to the New Haven Museum collection.

Current Exhibitions

Shining Light on Truth: New Haven, Yale & Slavery

Museum admission is free during the exhibit’s run, made possible by Yale University

“Shining Light on Truth” is an exhibition that presents the essential role of Black individuals in New Haven and Yale, highlighting their resistance, community building, and knowledge. It’s linked to the publication “Yale and Slavery: A History” and showcases findings from the Yale and Slavery Research Project. The exhibition focuses on Black New Haven’s stories, including early Black Yale students and alumni from the 1830s to 1940. It’s curated by Michael J. Morand and Charles E. Warner, Jr., designed by David Jon Walker, and presented by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

Profiles: Ruth McIntosh Cogswell and Dorothy Cogswell

Ruth McIntosh Cogswell was an art educator and artist known for her intricate silhouette work. Her daughter, Dorothy Cogswell, was the first woman to earn an MFA from the Yale School of Fine Arts. The exhibit showcases their work and gives a glimpse of the New Haven arts scene in the early 20th century, highlighting the role of women in establishing the New Haven arts community.


This exhibit explores the New Haven Clock Company factory’s transformation from an industrial site to a cultural hub from the 1970s to the 2000s. Situated on Hamilton St., it became a sanctuary for artists, musicians, skateboarders, and various clubs, including the Brick N’ Wood International Café and Kurt’s 2. Featuring videos, photos, and artifacts, the exhibit captures the diverse activities and personalities that have marked the building’s history. The New Haven Clock Factory is remembered by many for its unique blend of industry and creativity, hosting everything from R&B to hardcore punk and avant-garde art.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday noon-5 p.m.

To schedule an appointment in the Whitney Library, contact librarian Ed Surato at or (203) 562-4183 ext.115 to discuss your research project.


114 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT 06510, USA