200th Anniversary of PT Barnum’s Birth Celebrated in Circus Museum’s Poster Exhibition
Now through August 16, 2010
Sarasota, FL—March 25, 2010 – The 200th Anniversary of the birth of the world’s favorite showman, PT Barnum is showcased in the exhibition, The World Ransacked for All Its Wonders: PT Barnum and American Popular Culture at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art’s Circus Museum’s Tibbals Learning Center now through – August 16, 2010. The exhibit of historic and rare lithographic posters and accompanying ephemera including souvenir booklets, trade cards and photographs illustrates Barnum’s rise from proprietor of the American Museum to a celebrity brand in his own right.
The collection represents Barnum’s mass press campaigns that created some of America’s first superstars and put private moments on public display. Highlights of the exhibition include six of the seven known lithographic posters printed with images of Jumbo, PT Barnum’s great elephant, as well as additional pieces that use Jumbo’s name to advertise other attractions.
“This exhibition showcases the career of a unique American showman who astounded all with wonders drawn from all corners of the world,” said T. Marshall Rousseau, Interim Director for the Ringling Museum. “It also highlights the depth and breadth of the Ringling Museum’s circus collections and how the methods of communicating the arrival of the circus in American towns changed advertising practices.”
P.T. Barnum’s career spanned almost six decades, beginning in 1835 with his display of a woman advertised as George Washington’s nursemaid and ending, at his death, with the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth, the largest circus of its day. The 1863 marriage of Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren, called the Fairy Wedding, caught the attention and imagination of the country, making headlines at the height of the Civil War. From the marketing of pop culture personalities to the bombastic use of image and language in advertising, Barnum’s impact on American popular culture is still alive today.
This exhibition is organized and curated by Jennifer Lemmer Posey of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art’s Circus Museum.