Circus World Museum- Baraboo, WI

Posted on September 11, 2013 by Patrick Smyczek

This last Monday I made a hike up to Baraboo, WI to check out the Circus World Museum.  The reason for the field trip was 75% hunting for vintage circus imagery, 20% fun and 5% cotton candy.  I didn't really know what to expect and my socks were blown clean off almost immediately after arriving.

The first exhibition I saw was a collection of framed circus posters that dated back as far the 1800's.  Most of the sweet circus propaganda involved men taming beasts, death defying acrobatics and the coolest typefaces I've seen in a while.

I took hundreds of pictures but here are a few...


The poster above depicts the late great Gunther Gebel-Williams and one of his many Bengal Tigers.  I watched a documentary on this legendary beast master and his circus acts were UNREAL.  The man taught tigers to ride on the backs of horses, leopards to jump through rings of fire held by the teeth of tigers and I even saw an elephant catapult him into the air flipping and landing on the back of another elephant.  I saw it with my own eyes and it was still tough to believe.  

Another cool part my visit was checking out all the elaborate circus wagons.  


I believe the collection of circus wagons in the museum's possession is over 200.  There weren't that many on display but there was definitely at least 50 from all over the world.  

I can't say enough about the great experience that I had at the World Circus Museum.  The collection of circus posters, wagons, photos and other objects described to me a wild world of great imagination.  The whole time I was there I just imagined being child in a small rural town in the middle of America and seeing the circus for my first time and having my life change dramatically in that moment.  

This was one of the most inspiring museum experiences I've ever had in my whole life (it probably helped that I went on a monday and there were only 5 people at the place).  Mission accomplished.  



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