Bristol will get ‘Ink’ed up in upcoming museum exhibit



It’s time to tat it up next month in Bristol.

Or at least examine what it means to get tatted up.

The New England Carousel Museum is going to host “INK: The History and Ritual of Tattoo & Body Art” starting next month.

As part of the effort to bring the exhibit to the city, the museum also has undertake a crowd source funding effort as well.

Harmony Harrington, who is one of the co-curators of the exhibit, explained “INK” was “has been something that museum manager Morgan Urgo (also co-curator) has wanted to do for several years, and with the popularity of tattoos it seems like the right time.”

“The exhibit is a survey of tattooing and body art across time and continents; as such, we have an array of photos and documents relative to tattoo history. We also have a variety of tattooing tools, both authentic items and authentically recreated replicas,” explained Harrington. “There will also be multiple hands on components, so people can experience parts of the exhibit first hand.”

The museum— with its carousel horses, historic fire equipment, Greek exhibits, etc.— seems like an unusual venue for an exhibit about tattoos.

But, Harrington explained, “Although it might not seem like it, tattooing and carousels go hand and hand. Both have roots in Americana via the traveling circus and side show circuit.”

“During these days, people who visited these events would take in the amusement rides and see the sideshow performers, which included heavily tattooed performers— an oddity at the time,” said Harrington.

The exhibit is not intended as something where children will be excluded, said Harrington.

“This is an exhibit for everyone,” said Harrington.

“With the widespread appeal of tattoos today, almost everyone knows someone with a tattoo— whether or not they have one of their own,” said Harrington.

“It is an art form that can be appreciated by people from all different walks of life. This will also help us to expand our audience, and introduce our museum and mission to people who are unfamiliar with the Carousel Museum,” said Harrington.

The museum also is using “INK” as an opportunity to reach out to the local tattoo community as well.

“Several months ago, we reached out to local tattoo shops with a letter describing the exhibition and asking for involvement,” said Harrington. “We’ve had a great response from people who have wanted to help out in a variety of ways, including loaning us objects for the exhibition, monetary donations, and volunteering their time and talents. It’s encouraging to see the excitement this exhibit is creating.”

As a way to fund this exhibit, the museum has reached out to the public for financial support.

It has launched an Indiegogo campaign to help crowdfund “INK.” The campaign launched on July 10 and will run through Thursday, Aug. 10, with a campaign goal of $2,500. The money raised will help to secure rights to images used in the exhibit, fund exhibit materials, and also help pay for museum programming associated with the exhibition. Donors will have the option to receive a variety of perks depending on their donation level, including limited edition postcards, a t-shirt, entrance to a VIP reception, and having their name listed in the exhibit as a sponsor, allowing them to become a part of museum history.

“As a small non-profit, creating new exhibitions is an expensive undertaking,” said Harrington. “We not only need to cover exhibit materials, but also any associated educational programming. Another major expense has been the cost of rights to use many of the images in this exhibit. We are dedicated to doing things the right way, with proper compensation and credit.”

“Crowd funding sites such as Indiegogo are a new platform for museums to use to help gain funding for new projects,” said Harrington. “While there hasn’t been a great deal of museums who have experimented with this platform, there have been a few great success stories. This is another avenue to help us raise not only fund, but also awareness and excitement about the exhibition.”

“INK: The History and Ritual of Tattoo & Body Art” will open to the public on Saturday, Aug. 19, with an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. that day. It will run through March of 2018. Admission to this exhibit will be included with general admission to the New England Carousel Museum. More information about the opening reception will be made public as it becomes available.

For more information about “INK: The History and Ritual of Tattoo & Body Art,” visit, e-mail, or call (860)585-5411.

To donate or view the Indiegogo, go to

One of the pieces that will be part of the exhibit ‘Ink’d’ at the New England Carousel Museum later this month.