Saturday, May 17, 2014

Opening Day Today at Circus World Museum: New Wonders on Display Promise Fresh Excitement, A Rousing Reason to GO ...

From Ben Bromley, reporting in the Baraboo News Republic:  "A historic animal house that formerly held a gift shop now displays models illustrating Ringling Bros. Circus history. One is a 200-piece miniature replica of the 1947 Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus train, donated by model train builder Joe Kaspar and housed in a custom-built case that runs the length of the building."

Kasper spent decades crafting the train.  He selected the year 1947 because "that's when the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey show was at its largest."

In the same room, you can take in a set of nine recently restored dioramas, one of them seen below. They were created in Circus World's imposing railroad car shop by the late Jean Leroy in the 1960s to depict the Ringling rise to international fame.

These dioramas traveled ahead of the circus in the 1960s to drum up free publicity, and were later put on display at Irvin Feld's lavish Circus World theme park in Florida. After the park folded in the mid-1980s, they were sold, and languished in an unknown location for years.  A New Jersey collector, revealing their existence, donated them to Circus World in 2011.  Rigorous restoration, undertaken by volunteers Steve and Dawnne Flint of Janesville, consumed 400 hours.

The process was complex.  Asbestos had to be removed, old wiring replaced with LED, among other arduous steps.  "It was more than just glue and paint,” explained Steve Flint. “There were a lot of curse words I didn’t think I knew.”

Of the new miniatures on elegant exhibition, says Circus World Executive Director Scott O'Donnell,  “I fully believe the Ringling brothers would wholeheartedly approve of this display."

Also new this year at Circus World, the annual summer circus show is back under the big top!

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