WONDER: Human Experience and the Arts | June 6–9, 2024
WONDER Symposium | June 6-9
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The Greatest Show On Earth® Gallery

The Greatest Show On Earth® Gallery

Free for Members
Free with Museum Admission
Now Open
Circus Museum
Tibbals Learning Center
Included w/ Museum Admission

This latest addition to the museum celebrates the era of modern circus that began with Irvin Feld’s purchase of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® in 1967. The Greatest Show On Earth® Gallery modernizes the museum’s expansive history of the circus by exploring the first fifty years of the Feld family’s stewardship during which the spectacle of the show brought the circus experience to new heights.

The new exhibit continues the story, found throughout the Circus Museum, of how Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® grew to become one of the most well-recognized brands in the world. The gallery space is designed to evoke the excitement of seeing a live show, while also representing the full spectrum of the production experience from both front- and back-of-house perspectives. Visitors can explore artifacts, costumes, and media footage in an engaging and multisensory experience throughout the exhibition area.

The arched entrance to The Greatest Show On Earth® Gallery is crowned by a brightly lit Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® sign, an artifact donated by Feld Entertainment Inc., that traveled across the country with the touring show. That iconic marquee invites visitors to continue past the circus history timeline and enter the new exhibit space, which consists of three sections.

It begins with the history of the Feld family and the evolution of Feld Entertainment Inc. through important artifacts related to the Feld family’s transformation of the circus business. Moving into next space, you will experience an interactive media component that features more than 120 circus acts, and provides a behind-the-scenes look at how the show came together each season from concept development to execution. The entire experience culminates with the third section, an exciting mixture of multimedia and three-dimensional presentation that conveys the spectacle and thrill of circus performance.

As Feld Entertainment Inc. relaunches Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® across the U.S. in 2024, the history contained within the museum’s newest gallery is more relevant than ever.  “We find ourselves at the perfect moment to open these galleries, to contextualize the living history of the show and to update the museum’s interpretation of the history of the circus in America,” says Jennifer Lemmer Posey, Tibbals Curator of Circus at The Ringling.