The ‘Biggest Little Show on Earth’
The world’s largest miniature circus is being exhibited at the Knoxville Museum Art. The Howard Bros. Circus, a hand crafted, miniature replica of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be on exhibit at the Museum through September 12, 1993.
The Howard Bros. Circus was created by HOWARD TIBBALS of Oneida — a "hobby" that has evolved for almost 40 years. TIBBALS has devoted over half his life to the research, design and painstaking creation of his colossal model, billed as "the world’s largest miniature circus." The model consists of over one million intricate pieces and covers nearly 7,000 square feet. Figures one sixteenth actual size fill the space of nearly one and one-half basketball courts. The exhibition will be displayed in both of the Museum’s third floor galleries.
TIBBALS’s attention to detail allows viewers to relive the days of the traveling circus of the 1920s and ‘30s. Virtually every scene from the tented circus era is featured in the exhibition —the canvas "big top" with spectators cheering from the stands, circus animals in the ring and venders peddling their wares.
Every piece in the model fits into the 51-car circus train, a major part of the exhibition. The train cars are unloaded, one by one, as Tibbals and two assistants install the circus. From the day the train pulls into town, it takes Tibbals’ team over ten weeks to complete the installation.
The exhibition is enhanced by a high-tech lighting system that dims every few minutes, allowing visitors to enjoy the circus under both daylight and nighttime conditions. Surrounding the model is a series of colorful circus posters and photo murals presenting fascinating behind-the-scenes details and facts about circus life.
The Howard Bros. Circus is now nearly 50 percent larger than when it debuted at the Knoxville World’s Fair in 1982. It returns to Knoxville after three years at the Circus World Museum in Barboo, Wis. Prior to that, it was displayed at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., the Henry Ford Museum in Deerborn, Mich., and at the Rochester, N.Y. Science Museum.
"We are excited about bringing this exhibition home to East Tennessee," said HENRY FLOOD ROBERT, Jr., director of the Museum. "The Howard Bros. Circus has all the elements of creativity and craftsmanship that only someone with extraordinary dedication and perseverance could attain. HOWARD TIBBALS’ work exemplifies that dedication and is appealing to all ages," Robert said.
The Knoxville Museum of Art features the Howard Bros. Circus through September 12, 1993. The Museum is open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Museum admission is free for members, children under 12 and on Tuesday evening from 4-9 p.m., $3 for adults, $2 for students and senior citizens. For additional information or to schedule a tour, please contact the Museum at (615) 525-6101.
FNB Chronicle, Vol. 4 No. 2 – Winter 1993
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
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