The Hardware City
The mission of the New Britain Industrial Museum is to collect, preserve and exhibit items representing more than 200 years of New Britain innovation and invention.
As each visitor to the Museum learns, New Britain’s impact has been, and continues to be, felt far beyond its borders. Very few of the items we use or wear everyday could have been created without a machine, or a part, or a concept that originated in New Britain. This is the legacy of companies such as Corbin, Landers, Frary & Clark, Russwin, North and Judd, Fafnir Bearing, New Britain Machine and The Stanley Works (now known as Stanley Black & Decker).
The Museum recently moved to a new location and turned to Integral Storage Solutions for design and installation of a new compact shelving system.
We took a tour of the archives with acting director Randall N. Judd and learned how the storage system helps to protect and preserve the collection:
“These shelves made it a lot easier for us to keep all of the documentary and archival material we have within eye sight and close protection. Much of our collection we’ve had to store off site, but not the archival materials. We want to monitor them more closely because they’re more fragile,” said Mr. Judd.
The New Britain Industrial Museum was conceived in the early-1990’s by Horace Van Dorn, retired Vice President of Engineering at Fafnir Bearing, who felt there needed to be a local museum dedicated to New Britain’s history and accomplishments that could “generate civic pride and inspiration for education in our youth. It would serve as an economic beacon for future industrial development…and a meaningful attraction for tourism.”
“Horace Van Dorn’s idea was first to collect the objects that were made by the companies,” said Mr. Judd. “The balance of our museum is loaded with all of those products. I tell people when they come to visit — 98% of the stuff you look at here was made in New Britain.”
The collection has grown over the years but like every museum of its kind, The New Britain Industrial Museum has limited exhibition space. This makes the job of properly storing and protecting the material a vital part of the mission.
“The other half of our job, other than to preserve objects, is the documentary materials which tell the history, in writing,” said Judd. “You can’t have a meaningful collection without that background to help tell that story.”
In December, the Museum celebrated the grand opening of the new location at 59 West Main Street with Mayor Erin Stewart releasing a Stanley Tape Rule across the doorway.
To learn more about the New Britain Industrial Museum, visit their website, or better yet, stop by the new location for a tour!
Portions of this story are sourced from the New Britain Industrial Museum “About Us” page.