Never got to see the circus? Well, you’re in luck because the “Step Right Up!” exhibit has made its way to J. Wayne Stark Galleries at the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M. This unique exhibit opened January 25 and will close March 14. It aims to celebrate the nostalgia surrounding the circus, explore the culture and history of this American tradition, and give viewers a behind the scenes look into the circus.
In conjunction with Tegge Circus Archives, this exhibit is focused on the time period from 1890 to 1965 and showcases over 60 pieces. “Step Right Up!” has been visiting different museums for five years now and will continue after it is finished at Texas A&M.
Exhibit curator Timothy Tegge grew up in the circus world, with parents who were also in the business. Through each of the artifacts, Tegge is able to share the culture of and explain the history of the circus. He is a circus historian and collector, who continues to perform in circus shows all over the country.
The history of the circus in America dates back to the 1700s. For many Americans, especially those in small towns, it was their only opportunity to see an elephant or electric lights. Inside the gallery, there is a wall specifically for Texas circuses, as Texas was a common destination for early circuses. There are historic photos, oversize posters, costumes, and much more to see.
Several programs will be hosted by the galleries over the course of the exhibit. There will be Tegge’s public talk, a circus music presentation, a Texas Circus Tribute, a lecture called “A Grand Aggregation of Wonders: America, Texas and the World at the Circus, 1793-1956” and a presentation called “Reminiscences of TAMU’s own Circus Researcher.”
The lecture, “A Grand Aggregation of Wonders: America, Texas and the World at the Circus, 1793-1956,” will be given by UT circus historian, Janet Davis and be held on February 21. Tegge’s brown bag presentation, which will be held on February 20, will include his ringmaster attire, historical facts, and anecdotes from his time in the circus. After a question and answer session, Tegge will guide viewers through the gallery and give insight into each artifact.
The circus won’t be in town for long, so don’t miss out on a chance to immerse yourself in the theatrical fun. The Stark Galleries are open Tuesday through Friday, from 6 to 8 p.m. It is also open on Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m.