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Exhibit: “Step Right Up! Behind the Scenes of the Circus Big Top, 1890-1965”

Step Right Up Exhibit logo


Friday, September 1, 2017
Friday, October 20, 2017

At the Wallace Exhibit Center

circus worker behind the scenes, feeds her child.

Mary Ruth Herriott and her baby behind the scenes at the Mills Brothers Circus, c. 1960-61, black-and-white photograph, collection Tegge Circus Archives.

In an era spanning the early 20th century, through depression-ridden times, a dust bowl, and the Red Scare, one form of revelry thrived–the circus. The Big Top was a thrilling spectacle that burst into towns along the American road and railways. Traveling from coast to coast, rail cars packed with canvas, exotic animal menageries, strongmen, fat ladies, and roustabouts brought a much needed relief to millions of Americans. Step Right Up! Behind the Scenes of the Circus Big Top, 1890–1965 explores a history fraught with intrigue and majesty and gives viewers their chance to run away with the circus. Approximately sixty pieces of circus history are featured in Step Right Up! including full-color posters, costume regalia, historic photographs, billboards, oversize graphics, and oral histories from past performers.

Exhibit is included with regular Living History Farms admission.

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Exhibits USA logo Mid-America Arts Alliance logo National Endowment for the Arts logo




This exhibition is organized and toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance.