The house that Marie built: Barnes Museum curator retires

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After 16 years as the curator of the Town of Southington Barnes Museum, and 29 years total as a town employee, Marie Secondo worked her last day on Tuesday, Feb. 25. She leaves behind big shoes to fill as she leaves with a wealth of knowledge and comprehension of the home’s history.

“Marie has been a tremendous asset to the Barnes Museum and Town of Southington,” said Kristi Sadowski, executive director of both the museum and the Southington Public Library. “While we wish her all the best in her retirement, she will be sorely missed.”

As the museum curator, Secondo has spent countless hours preserving, researching and categorizing the museum’s many artifacts. In addition, she maintains the museum grounds and utilities, offers guided tours, creates programs and plans events throughout the year.

“I will miss coming into the building and taking care of this home. For the last several years, I have taken care of two households,” said Secondo. “There’s a lot that goes on here behind the scenes. There is really always something to do here.”

Over the years, Secondo said the day to day activities have gotten busier as the museum has attracted a larger audience—something she is proud of.

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“In the digital age, we have seen our programs grow,” she said. “We see visitors from all around the state, and beyond.”

Marie Secondo carefully arranges a display of Valentine’s Day cards at the Barnes Museum, making sure every detail is perfect before leaving work on Feb. 25. The museum curator retired after 16 years of caring for the local homestead.

Part of Secondo’s role as the museum curator was to learn all about the Barnes family’s history. With her retirement, that means the next person who takes her place will have to start all over again just like she did 16 years ago.

“I had to start from scratch when I took this job,” she said. “When the next person comes into this position, the same thing will happen. They will be tasked with learning about the family, their home, and what they gave to the town.”

Secondo offered a piece of advice to the next Barnes Museum curator: don’t get overwhelmed.

The Barnes Museum,
85 N Main St, Southington, CT 06489
Phone: (860) 628-5426
www.thebarnesmuseum.org

“Just take it one day at a time,” said Secondo. “Don’t get discouraged. There were many days that I left work after not getting through everything I wanted to that day. It’s important to remember that tomorrow is another day.”

When asked how she hopes to be remembered, Secondo replied that preserving the home and the family’s history is the priority—not her.

“I have always looked upon the house and the family as the number one priority—it’s not about me,” she said. “My goal was always to bring the family and their history to the forefront and allow people to realize the treasures that they left behind. My number one goal was to let people know what’s under this roof. I hope that my ‘legacy’ is that I brought that to life.”

Secondo hopes that the museum continues to grow its presence in the community and beyond.

“I hope that people say to themselves, ‘visiting the Barnes Museum is on my bucket list,’” she said.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at News@SouthingtonObserver.com.