SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – In four months, Americans will no longer be dazzled and entertained by the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus. The show will shut down in May, but what will happen with all of its elaborate costumes and props?
Feld Entertainment Studios, which owns the circus, has partnered with the Ringling Museum in Sarasota to protect some of these artifacts.
When you walk inside the Ringling Museum, you’re immersed in color, music and whimsy. Many years ago, the circus was a grand spectacle unlike what we experience today and that history is preserved at the Ringling Museum.
You’ll find carriages, trains, costumes, props, even a miniature car that the famous clown Lou Jacobs stuffed himself in.
And as of this May, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus will be just like this collection- an echo of a glorious past.
“We want to make sure that the artifacts that all of these wonderful people see today are going to be there for their grandchildren,” said Deborah Walk, Assistant Director of Legacy and Circus at The Ringling.
Museum curators control the climate and the humidity to make sure these items last. And they hope historians can use these vast archives someday.
“This is a subject that hasn’t been really looked at seriously by historians and we want to be ready for when those people come who want to do serious books on the circus,” said Walk.
Some of these Ringling costumes could find new life. The Circus Arts Conservatory runs the Sailor Circus, a training ground for young circus performers. Some of the costumes they use are donated from Ringling Brothers.
“We definitely try to get those on our performers so they get to experience what its like,” said Sailor Circus costume designer Kenji Trujillo
These costumes and props are custom-made and extremely expensive. So the conservatory is hopeful they can receive new donations to inspire future generations.
“[These costumes] have a voice still,” said Trujillo.
“If they make their way to the circus arts conservatory they’ll find a home and a really long life and a new purpose and a new love, so we would be certainly open to it,” said Courtney Wyatt, Circus Arts Manager.