The Museum of Science and Industry is auctioning off a vast collection of circus memorabilia.chicago news

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

An auction house is helping sell the museum’s collection of figurines that once represented “making the impossible possible.”

The circus memorabilia auction features part of a long-term exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. Officials hope that by selling some of the memorabilia, fans will be able to experience “the greatest show on earth” from the comfort of their own homes.

“I think one of the reasons the circus is so inspiring is that it pushes our limits and our capabilities,” said Kathleen McCarthy, collection director and head curator. , doing things you couldn’t imagine you could do if you hadn’t seen them.”

The large miniature circus collection originally consisted of 22,000 figures. It was created by Chicago railroad worker Roland J. Weber and is said to have taken him 30 years to complete.

“I can imagine that in 1920, when he started working, people didn’t have televisions, they might have radios. There aren’t many opportunities for entertainment, especially if you live in a small town.” “So just having a circus come to town with thousands of people and put on an exotic performance must have changed the game.”

The auction includes several hand-carved motorized dioramas depicting acrobats, clowns and animal performances. Other interactive elements reflect that the circus also served as an educational tool when it came to town.

“The circus is a great industry. It employs thousands of people. It uses innovative business models and often introduces audiences to new technologies,” McCarthy said. “Our mission here is to inspire creative talent in everyone… There’s a real reason people wanted to run away and join the circus.”

Despite the ingenuity the circus once brought, that has changed. As such, the Museum of Science and Industry bids farewell to its collection in the upcoming auction at Potter and Potter.

“The circus was a really incredible exhibit, but it’s exciting…it makes you look back fondly on a circus that doesn’t exist today,” McCarthy said.

Other circus auction items include pieces from the Zweifel Collection, which consists of approximately 500 additional pieces. The museum plans to use the proceeds of the auction to acquire new artifacts, and hopes that those new works will embody the same message as the circus.

“Through the auction, we hope that this miniature circus will continue to inspire others. Today’s circus is different than what we see here, but it is a source of inspiration, awe and spectacle.” It can provide a moment and move us forward,” McCarthy said.

Potter and the Potter’s Circus Collection auction is Saturday, September 24th at 10am. For more information, visit

Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3

Note: This story will be updated with video.

Angel Idou is JCS Foundation of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.

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