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MassMu Displays P.T. Barnum Artifacts from its Permanent Collection

News Release:  MassMu Displays P.T. Barnum Artifacts from its Permanent Collection

With the 2017 closing of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum, and Bailey Circus and the success of the Hollywood musical, The Greatest Showman, P.T. Barnum has returned in spirit to the limelight in America.

In response, the Massillon Museum has created a small display of artifacts related to Barnum’s circus, his American Museum, and his performers—including Mr. and Mrs. Tom Thumb and singer Jenny Lind. The jewel of the exhibit is Barnum’s gold-tipped walking stick. Along with photographs, programs, advertising, and memorabilia in the exhibit, the walking stick was donated in 1995 to the Massillon Museum by Dr. Robert Immel along with his hand-carved miniature circus that is an iconic part of the Massillon Museum.  

“With the current popularity of the circus as seen in the film, The Greatest Showman, MassMu wants to encourage patrons to have a last look at the current circus gallery before renovation of the second floor begins,” says the Museum’s executive director Alexandra Nicholis Coon.

The Immel Circus, which is usually on view as part of a visit to the Museum, will be temporarily closed beginning January 22 during construction in that part of the building during the expansion project. Until then, visitors can see the 2,620-piece circus diorama and the circus posters, photographs, and costumes that surround it in the Immel Circus Gallery.  The new Barnum exhibit, P.T. Barnum: The World's Greatest Showman, can also be seen until that date.

By mid-January, many circus images will be added to the Museum's virtual galleries, so visitors will be able to view permanent collection artifacts while the circus gallery is closed. Visit To view the online P.T. Barnum and circus gallery, click here.

The Barnum exhibit, the Immel Circus, Paul Brown: Innovator, and the Stark County Artists Exhibition may be seen during regular hours Tuesday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. “Although the lobby is in construction disarray, the exhibits are accessible at this time,” says Margy Vogt, public relations coordinator.  “Everyone is still welcome to visit.”

About P.T. Barnum

Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810–1891) acquired and expanded the American Museum in New York City in 1842. In 1870, the marketing genius invested in a circus venture, casting his friends and many performers from his museum. The following year, P.T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Circus opened in Brooklyn, the forerunner to what would become Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. By the end of its run, the Ringling Brothers, Barnum, and Bailey Circus had entertained the world for 146 years.

Circus: P. T. Barnum

About the Massillon Museum

The circus gallery closing will facilitate construction of a doorway to the new Studio M space directly east of the gallery on the second floor of one of the Museum’s new buildings. The expansion project—funded by the State of Ohio, foundations, businesses, organizations, and individuals—will enhance the Museum’s ability to preserve and exhibit art and history, add opportunities to be the cultural hub of the community, and create space for the new Paul Brown Museum.

The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark.

The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon.  For more information, call 330-833-4016 or visit  A visit to the Massillon Museum is always free.

Tags: circus, P. T. Barnum, Greatest Showman
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