In Fond Memory Of Our Owners – Herb and Gloria Barker
The BCCCM’s wide array of cartoon toys, comics, lunchboxes and the everyday items of childhood were collected and preserved over a 70 year period by Herb and Gloria Barker, even as they worked to establish their own business, Barker Specialty Company, founded in 1948.
The BCCCM showcases over 150 years worth of childhood possessions, numbering over 80,000 items in total. Herb and Gloria began their collection by visiting tag sales, at a time before people realized that cast-off toys had an intrinsic value and interest for future generations. These objects were quite ordinary in their day, but bring back countless memories for visitors from around the world!
Herb and Gloria were dedicated to keeping America’s rich cartoon heritage alive, gathering beloved artifacts that date from 1873 to present day. In addition to the BCCCM, the Barkers founded the largest retail animation and entertainment art gallery in the world – Barker Animation Art Gallery. Barker Animation had its Grand Opening in West Hartford in 1993. In 1994, operations moved to the Barker complex in Cheshire, where it has remained ever since. The Gallery maintains a large collection of vintage and current artwork from the artists in the field of animation and pop culture. To give this artwork even more exposure to the public, Gloria and Herb opened an additional gallery at The Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods in Mashantucket, CT in 2016.
Gloria and Herb always took an active role in their community with a special interest in children’s charities. Gloria was a Life Member and Keeper of the Gate for Hadassah, active with the Curtis Home for Children and was Chairman of the Human Rights Commission. In 1998, Gloria and Herb began donating some of their art collection to neighboring cities, churches and synagogues, YMCAs, American Red Cross, Connecticut Association of Schools, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Harold Leever Cancer Center, Hospital for Special Care, MidState Medical Center, Myth Youth Foundation, New Britain General Hospital, Operation Respect CT, and UCONN Health Center, totaling over one million dollars’ worth of art donations. They continued their work after moving to Florida by declaring 2012 as “The Year of Art for Health” and by donating artwork to many of the area hospitals.
Herb and Gloria shared a close partnership, in work as in life, celebrating a marriage that spanned 69 years. The poem that they chose for their mausoleum to summarize their love was written by John Keats:
“Two souls with but a single thought, two hearts that beat as one.”