The world’s first Museum of circus art
The world’s first Museum of circus art was opened in 1928 at the Leningrad (nowadays Saint-Petersburg) circus. Its initiator and first director was the master of art movement at the Theatre college and one of the founders of the Theatre museum in Leningrad Vasily Andreev. The materials on circus and variety art from personal collections of V. Andreev and the circus figure, producer and critic E. Gershuni started the Myseum funds.
The aim of creating the Museum of circus art was to collect the materials for systematization, studying and analysis of the circus history. By 1930 the circus materials substantially enriched the first fundamental investugation of the circus history – the book “Circus.(Origin. Development. Prospects.)” published in 1931. Its author is the prominent Soviet historian and theorist of the circus art Evgeny Kuznetsov.
The Museum funds were created and are being created thanks to circus performers who hand over photographs, posters, programmes, costumes and other circus materials for free use in the Museum. At present the Museum collection amounts to more than 90 000 items. It is composed of several collections containing Russian and foreign materials: the library, phograph and video collection; departments of posters, circus programmes, manuscripts, clippings, plastic arts, costumes and and circus properties.
Today the main part of the Museum funds is located in two adjoining rooms furnished with bookcases for keeping paper materials and with showcases. The present interior of the rooms was designed in 1989 by the artist Mark Gorelik.
These are the rooms for museum employees, specialists dealing with circus art, performers interested in the materials on their genre. The principle of material cataloging makes it possible to meet promptly the demands of visiters. Many books on the history and theory of circus art, as well as diplomas and dissertations have been written based on the Museum funds.
Beginning in the first year of its existence the Museum organized exhibitions at the first floor lobby for auduences of the Saint-Petersburg circus. In 1928 the exhibition “Predators in Circus” was opened followed by the exhibition “Training of Animals”. The follow-up exhibitions also told about particular circus genres: juggling, clownery, equestrian circus. In 1975 the management of the Leningrad circus allocated the second floor rooms (about 180 square meters) for organising periodical exhibitions.
Exhibition hall . 2002
In recent years the visitors of the exhibition hall could see the following expositions: “Artist and circus”, “For the centenary of Karandash”, “The circus depicting time and itself” (to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Saint-Petersburg circus), “Circus actors in the years of the Great Patriotic War”, “Children and circus”. In the same hall special excursions are also organised covering not only the themes of exhibitions, but also including interactive studies for visitors. By the 130th anniversary of the Saint-Petersburg circus the exhibition “Circus of many faces” was opened in the reequipped exhibition hall.
The museum organises not only its own exhibitons, but also lends its materials for exhibitions in Russia and abroad: Germany in 1972, Czekhoslovakia in 1976, Belgium in 1996, Finland in 2002, 2004-2006.
Fragment of exhibition hall, 2007-2008
Museum.ru , facebook.com/circusmuseum
The world’s first and the only in Russia Museum of circus art of such scale invites you to use our extensive library, photograph, video and programme collection, etc. You are welcome!
Dear students and postgraduates!
If during the years of your studies you find it necessary to use the materials from the funds of the Museum of circus art, you will need an official letter from your department of the following model. You can arrange the day and time of your visit by the telephone +7(812) 570-54-13.
Those who wish to order an excursion to the exhibition hall, as well as to buy books on circus art can contact us by the telephone +7(812) 570-54-13 or by . Excursions are held every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The groups are formed of 15 persons at the most. Foreign groups should include their interpreter.
The Museum of circus art is located in the building of the circus at the address: 3 Naberezhnaya Reki Fontanka. The map is available in the section “Contacts”.