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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The circus is coming to town: Fullerton Museum Center presents a colorful new exhibit

Step right up and take a look behind the curtains of what was once a prominent source of American entertainmentthe circus.

The Fullerton Museum Center unveils their newest exhibit "STEP RIGHT UP: Behind the Scenes of the Circus Big Top 1890-1965" on Nov. 11 and will remain for display until Jan. 7 2018. Photo credit: Aaron Untiveros

The Fullerton Museum Center is proud to present “STEP RIGHT UP: Behind the Scenes of the Circus Big Top 1890-1965”, that will be displayed from Nov. 11 to Jan. 7, 2017.

This exhibit will take attendees behind the scenes of the traveling circuses with artifacts and advertisements from 1890 to 1965. Feature items on display include costume regalia, historic photographs, billboards and oral histories from past performers.

“These huge circus posters are just so beautiful as works of art,” said Aimee Aul, the Fullerton Museum Educator. “Now when we see an advertisement, it’s on our phones or on our computer and it’s just there and gone, but these advertisements were made by artists.”

John Bill Ricketts was the first to establish the American Circus in 1793 while P.T. Barnum first introduced America to sideshow oddities. These oddities included the Feejee Mermaid and human curiosities like Tom Thumb.

By 1900, there were more than 100 circuses traveling across the country. These circuses were adept at using all of the advancements of America’s industrial revolution—the railroad, color lithography, and mass marketing strategies—to promote their impending arrival.

The exhibit will highlight the juxtaposition found in their strategies. It includes romanticized imagery, backstage stories and photographs that reveal both the fantasy and reality of circus life. In this way, the displays explore the illusions that played to the imaginations of so many.

The opening reception for this family friendly exhibit will take place on Nov. 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission for the reception is set at $10 for the general audience and free for museum members.

Alongside the exhibit itself, the opening reception will include a curator’s talk, food, drinks, and music.

For more information on the Fullerton Museum Center, visit their website.