Niagara Falls Museum

Niagara Falls Museum

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Niagara Falls Museum

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Niagara Falls Museum was a museum most notable for being the oldest Canadian museum (1827), as well as for having housed the mummy of Ramses I for 140 years before its return to Egypt in 2003. It was founded by Thomas Barnett of Birmingham, England and underwent a few vocational changes in its history.


Thomas Barnett was born on December the 4th, 1799 near Birmingham, England. He moved to Canada in the early 1820s and opened the Niagara Falls Museum in 1827 at the base of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Barnett had a passion for collecting oddities. He retrofitted a former brewery house to exhibit his private collection. Although Barnett was aware of the collection patterns of his North American contemporaries, his own approach bore an uncanny similarity to the British tradition, such as the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the first traditional museum in Britain.

The Niagara Falls Museum had humble beginnings. In 1827, the first museum contained Thomas Barnett's own cabinet of taxidermic curiosities. Although the details were not documented, the collection was likely composed of a number of mounted animals of local origin, combined with a smattering of Native American artifacts. Barnett's collection however rapidly grew. Prior to 1844, an account of the museum's contents stated that there were over 5000 items, including bipeds, quadrupeds, birds, fish, insects, reptiles, shells, minerals, and Native American curiosities^ Seibel, George A.: "Ontario's...
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