Looking to spend an afternoon doing something different? Are you interested in catching a glimpse of Wisconsin history while you’re at it? Then you need to visit the Circus World Museum. Open for the fall season on Mondays through Wednesdays now through November 21st, this museum showcases the exciting, colorful history of the circus.
The museum was started in the 1950s by the Ringling Brother’s attorney, John M. Kelley. At the time, the popularity of railroad circuses was dwindling. Kelley feared that their history would be forgotten, so in an attempt to preserve it he opened the Circus World Museum in 1959.
Today, visitors can explore the story of the Ringling Brothers, who sometimes hunkered down in Baraboo during the winter months to repair their equipment. Ten of their original buildings still stand at the Circus World Museum and are now considered National Historic Landmark Structures. It would have been in these buildings that the Ringling Brothers cared for their huge collection of horses, elephants, tigers, lions, camels and birds.
Perhaps the most unique claim to fame at the Circus World Museum is the largest collection of authentic circus wagons. Over 200 beautiful wagons from near and far are on display. Visitors will also catch a glimpse of rotating exhibits that show anything from artifacts to vintage circus posters. During the summer season, Circus World Museum puts on daily shows featuring acrobats, jugglers, animals and clowns. The Circus World Museum is a must-see Wisconsin gem.