The Webster Bank Museum Center at the Mark Twain House & Museum
The Webster Bank Museum Center at the Mark Twain House & Museum.
Informational panels located on the hall walls provide information to visitors as the explore the Museum Center.
The Aetna Gallery is located on the first floor of the Museum Center, and is home to the permanent orientation exhibit "I have sampled this life."
Samuel Langhorn Clemens grew up on the Mississippi River and as a boy dreamt of working on the Riverboats traveling along the waterway.
In 1859 Samuel Langhorn Clemens became a Riverboat Pilot. The use of the leadline to determine the depth of the water included the call Mark Twain, which means safe passage. Samuel Langhorn Clemens would adopt the Pen Name Mark Twain when his first successful story, Jim Smiley and the Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County was published in 1865.
Mark Twain's The Adventure of Tom Sawyer was the first of a series of books that drew on the author's childhood experiences along the Mississippi River.
Mark Twain constantly jotted in notebooks to record conversations for his writings and lectures.
This slate was another of his memory aids. This slate ranges from the mundane - "Telephone Mr. Rogers" - to the intriguing -"Leave the cat here/ Take the whiskey along."
Mark Twain invested a fortune in James W Paige's automatic typesetting machine between 1880 and 1894. The most skilled human compositor could set 1,500 letters per hour. The Paige Compositor was six times faster, yet often broke down, negating its speed advantage. Moreover, the reliable though slightly slower, Merganthaler's Linotyope machine was invented at the same time and captured the market. Mark Twain was broke. The Paige Compositor weighs about 9,000 lbs and has more than 18,000 moveable parts. Paige assembled two working compositors. This is the 1887 model. The 1894 model was used as scrap-metal during World War II.
The Second Floor Gallery in the Webster Bank Museum Center at the Mark Twain House & Museum hosts special exhibits both planned by the Mark Twain House & Museum and others. The latest exhibit Twain's Attic showcased pieces of interest in the Mark Twain House & Museum's Collection.
Olivia Clements gave this nightgown to her lady's maid, Katy Leary. Leary later gave the nightgown to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Ryan, owners of a farm on Albany Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut, where she often went to purchase chickens and eggs for the Clemenses' meals. The family treasured the nightgown for nine decades before donating it to the museum. Important conservation work was completed in 2017 to help preserve this priceless family heirloom for many years to come.
This handwritten maxim is an example of an inscription Clemens might have written on the flyleaf of a book he was gifting to a family member or friend. "On the whole it is better to deserve honors and not have them, than to have them but not deserve them. Truly Yours Mark Twain May 25/07"
In 1967 Edith Salsbury wrote a letter to famed American illustrator Norman Rockwell inquiring about his original illustrations for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Hucklebury Finn.
Unfortunately, Rockwell promised the preliminary charcoals to the New Rochelle Library in New York, and the original illustrations to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home in Hannibal, Missouri where they are are currently on display.
On October 13, 1972, the U.S. Postal Service released an 8-cent Tom Sawyer commemorative stamp to celebrate the popular novel written by Mark Twain. This sheet of stamps was signed in the top left corner by sitting president, Richard M. Nixon.
The first floor, second floor landing, and third floor landing of the Mark Twain House were decorated in 1881 by Louis C Tiffany and Associated Artists. This connection with Louis Comfort Tiffany has led to the Mark Twain House & Museum amassing a sizable collection of glass and decortive items by Louis Comfort Tiffany. This leaded glass window features three carp swimming through layers of rippling water. The carp are depicted in mottled green and varigated blue and brown and swimming in mottle green, white, blue and orange hues. This window formerly stood in the Beach home, called Vine Hill, in West Hartford, Connecticut.
On September 18, 1908 - long after Samuel Clemens left his Hartford home - two burglars broke into his house in Redding, Connecticut. They were quickly arrested. One of the jailed burglars carved a model of a steamboat like the ones Clemens had piloted in his youth, and presented it to Clara Clemens after the author's death. That mode is now displayed at the Mark Twain Library in Redding, Connecticut.
Enter a curatorial mystery: This model square - rigger also has a burglar story attached. A 1966 curator's letter in the Mark Twain House files says that it was built by a burglar in jail for "committing thefts and lurking" in the Nook Farm area in 1878. The name of the burglar is noted at John W. Hart. During a recent cleaning of the ship model a card was found wedged into it. It is one of Olivia Clemens's visiting cards with "Mrs. S.L. Clemens printed on it, and the written note wishing Sir Master Jack Bunce Sincere Regards.
Mark Twain and his Characters have become icons of popular culture, and there are many examples of his influnence in our everyday lifes including dolls, games and books. Mark Twain has become one of the most quoted individuals of all times, and popular quotes are often misattribute to Mark Twain.
The first press reference to a jumping frog contest in Hartford - commemorating "The Celebrate Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," Clemens's breakthrough work of 1865 - is from 1944 when a tourney was held in Colt Park. Ten teams represented city boys' clubs and the Hartford Junior Police Legion of Honor. In the 1950s the Mark Twain Memorial Commission and the Hartford Children's Museum organized an annual contest which was wildly popular. The winner of the last run race probably wore a button like the one displayed. In 1979 sentiment against the use of animals in sport led to the discontinuation of the event.
The Celebrated RoboFrog Race of Hartford County. In 2019, the Mark Twain House & Museum brought back the Frog Jump Contest, holding the first Celebrated RoboFrog Race of Hartford County on June 8, 2019. The second contest was scheduled to occur on June 13, 2020 but has been postponed due to the Covid-19 virus.
Backstory and Context
The Webster Bank Museum Center at the Mark Twain Museum & Museum designed by Robert Stern which opened in 2003. Our facility was the first museum in the nation, and the first building of any kind in Connecticut, to attain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The LEED Certification was presented to the museum on April 19, 2004. The museum also received the Environmental Leadership Award from the Connecticut Green Building Council and a 2004 GreenCircle Certificate from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.