The Mattatuck Museum is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the director

WATERBURY – The Mattatuck Museum is celebrating Bob Burns’ 10th year as curator.

“Under Burns’ direction, the Mattatuck Museum was reinvigorated and transformed into a cultural destination that became an economic engine and cornerstone for the city,” members said in a statement. “He has once again championed partnerships and community engagement, striving to ensure the museum is a place where everyone feels welcome and represented.”

Burns joined the Mattatuck Museum in 2012 and quickly immersed himself in the Waterbury community, according to members.


His volunteer activities include serving on the W3R/The National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association Inc. Leadership Council and on the Board of the Western Connecticut Tourism District. He is Deputy Chairman of the City of Waterbury’s Art Advisory Council, Vice President of Main Street Waterbury and a Board Member of the Waterbury Development Corporation. Burns also has an advisory role in the Post University Masters in Public Administration program, Shippensburg University (PA) Interdisciplinary Arts program, the Naugatuck Valley Community College Regional Advisory Board and the Waterbury Community Investment Program.

He has also served as a judge for group shows at museums and organizations throughout Connecticut and was named one of the “50 Most Influential People in Litchfield County” by Litchfield Magazine in 2014. In 2016 he received the Main Street Waterbury Community Partnership Award.

Burns helped start a three-year, $9 million construction and renovation project at the Mattatuck.

“Following a series of minor upgrades to the building, the 2017-2020 campaign transformed the museum by creating new spaces for exhibitions, an artist installation in the plaza, the reinstallation of the permanent collection, and a reinterpretation of the Orton P. Camp, Jr. History Exhibit,” said the members. “Burns served as a visionary and cheerleader for the project, helping secure government bond funds and inspiring the board to make that vision a reality.”

He said that Waterbury has always been at the heart of this project. “The goal was to literally open the museum up to our community and welcome them to their museum. Through the hard work of countless individuals, the revived museum will continue to be an important social, cultural and educational hub for downtown Waterbury,” said Burns.

In addition to his commitment and dedication to downtown Waterbury, Burns has more than doubled the workforce from nine to 23 and doubled the annual operating budget to just over $2.2 million. This expansion of the museum has resulted in numerous state and national awards including:

The 2013 National Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History for the exhibition Art for Everyone: The Federal Art Project in Connecticut, a statewide community project.

International news coverage in September 2013 of the funeral of Mr. Fortune, an 18th-century enslaved person whose skeletal remains were on display at the museum from the 1940s to the 1970s. After an extensive evaluation in Quinnipiac University’s forensic program, the remains were honored a day before burial at Waterbury’s Riverside Cemetery as the only unelected person interred in the state of Connecticut.

In 2014, the museum was a finalist for the National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Service—the highest national honor bestowed on museums and libraries. It recognized the Mattatuck for its long association with Waterbury Public Schools, its 20-year tradition of collecting oral histories from townspeople and workers, and its community-wide collaboration.

In 2017, Jane Peterson: At Home and Abroad debuted at the museum, the first retrospective of its kind in over 40 years. In 2018, this exhibition, which was curated over three years by the curator Dr. Cynthia Roznoy was developed into three other museums: the Long Island Museum, the Columbia Museum of Art and the Hyde Collection.

In 2018, the Mattatuck Museum was selected to participate in an innovative partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to bring iconic works from the Boston Museum’s collection to Waterbury. This grant-funded initiative is one of four institutions selected from museums across New England and New York. It extends over more than six years and gets bigger with each exhibition.

Charles Monagan, President of the Mattatuck Museum Board of Directors, said, “We appreciate everything Bob has done for the Mattatuck Museum since 2012 and look forward to the museum’s future in this vibrant new place under his leadership.”

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