Not Clowning Around

Step right up to the Witte Museum's magical new circus-themed exhibition

Witte Museum's new circus-themed exhibition isn't clowning around

Circus in the City witte museum
Visitors to the exhibition can stand in a poster with legendary lion tamer Clyde Beatty. Courtesy of Witte Museum

Step right up, folks, and into the Witte Museum's magical new exhibition. Running October 27 through December 9, "Circus in the City" celebrates the thrill of the circus coming to town. 

Curated in part using rare artifacts from the museum's own Hertzberg Circus Collection, the limited-run show features posters, rare photographs, dazzling costumes, and more. Designed by chief curator Amy Fulkerson and Bruce Shackelford, curator of Texas history of the Witte Museum, highlights of "Circus in the City" include:

  • Trapeze model of Alfredo Codona’s world-famous triple somersault
  • Costumes of a human cannonball and ringmaster
  • Sword swallower’s stand
  • Lion tamer’s chair
  • General Tom Thumb’s coach gifted by P.T. Barnum

Visitors will also be able to peruse whimsical original posters and photographs from the likes of Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus, and Cole Bros. Circus.

Though many now consider the event controversial for its use of animals, a traveling circus coming to town was a city-wide celebration for more than a century.

“The circus has had roots in San Antonio since in the 1850s and visitors can experience it all again here at the Witte Museum,” said Fulkerson in a release. “This exhibition will give visitors a chance to relive the magic of the circus and San Antonio’s extensive circus-filled past.”

Attendees can take part in interactive activations where they can learn how to juggle; take a side-by-side photo with Jack Earle, the 8-foot, 6-inch tall "Texas Giant"; and pose as a lion tamer. 

Entry to "Circus in the City" is included with the price of admission to the Witte.