Welcome to the Big Top! 
The Circus Comes to Town, 1910s-1980s
Julia Ideson Building- Exhibit Hall
January 15, 2022 - June 18, 2022

Circuses have entertained and enthralled American audiences since 1793. By the turn of the 20th century, large circuses like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus traveled the country by rail, boasting mile-long trains that carried death-defying performers, exotic animals, vibrantly painted wagons, and acres of tent canvas. In Houston, like many other towns and cities, circus day was one of the most important days of the year. 

Businesses and schools would close so everyone could watch dozens of elephants parade down Main Street, see the spectacle, and be transported to another world.

This exhibition features posters, costumes, photos, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia from the Heiser-Alban Collection of Circus Historical Materials, all collected by Houstonian Joseph M. Heiser for almost eighty years.

Exhibit is free and open to the public.

Exhibit dates are subject to change.