Kathrinne Duffy


During an era of museum-building, as other American cities erected grand temples to natural history, the Newport Natural History Society faced local ennui and institutional collapse. Even as people of all classes thronged to Newport amid the opulence of the city’s Gilded Age, local naturalists struggled to attract visitors and support for their museum. Failing to attract major contributions, the museum could not grow as more successful institutions elsewhere did. Committed to anachronistic mores, the Newport Natural History Society and its museum declined until they were past saving — casualties of a modern leisure culture that the naturalists had attempted to resist.