Street Address
550 Water St.
Baraboo, WI 53913
Mailing Address
550 Water St.
Baraboo, WI 53913
Hours
Open year-round, 10-4 between Labor Day in September, and summer season opening in mid-May.
Museum Type(s)
Staff
Steve Freese, Executive Director
phone: 608-356-8341

Description

Circus World Museum collects, preserves and interprets archival material and artifacts relating to the history of the American circus. In addition to the circus museum, it maintains and operates a circus library and research center. Through its exhibits and educational outreach programs, Circus World Museum strives to encourage an appreciation of the historic role of the circus in American life, including the presentation of live circus performances during the summer season. The summer season includes a full range of family entertainment including stage shows, circus music demonstrations, train loading demonstrations, clown acts, animal and carousel rides, and educational animal training demonstrations. During the fall and winter seasons, exhibit facilities are open for self-guided tours. A variety of seasonal programs change as the seasons do.

History

The Museum opened in July 1959 in two of the structures built by the Ringling Brothers to house their circus during the winter in Baraboo, Wisconsin. During the fifty years it has been open, Circus World Museum has grown to include eight of the ten remaining winter quarters buildings, and over 50 acres of land along the Baraboo River.

Artifacts Collections

The collection documents circus history, including wagons, tents, sideshow banners, art, wagon-making tools, wardrobe, concession items, ticket booths, circus models.

Research Collections

One of the largest collections on American Circus history in the world, Circus World Museum's Library and Research Center attracts researchers from all over the world.

Educational Programs

Exhibition building houses displays on the Ringling family and their circus. Large display of historic wagons in two buildings on the grounds. The Ringlingville Winter Quarters buildings display a variety of artifacts and interpret the history of the different buildings and of circus in America. Summer activities include live daily circus performances, tours of the original buildings and of the wagons.

Governance

The Wisconsin Historical Society owns Circus World Museum and its collections. The museum operates under a lease-management agreement with the nonprofit Circus World Museum Foundation, Inc. The Foundation was originally incorporated as the Historic Sites Foundation under a management agreement with the Wisconsin Historical Society that was approved in 1960. The board includes at least nine but not more than 21 elected directors including a representative of the city of Baraboo and the Sauk County Board of Supervisors, a Governor's appointee, two members of the Society's governing Board of Curators, the Society's Director and honorary directors.

Library

Access: General Public

Appointment required: Yes

Publications

Center Ring, membership newsletter, 6 times/year