The Immel Circus Gallery at the Massillon Museum is slated to reopen after being closed for several months to accommodate construction during the Museum’s expansion project.
The circus diorama with its updated surrounding exhibit will first be open to the public on Saturday, September 22, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., with special entry for MassMu members at 6:00 p.m. The evening is free and everyone is invited. The circus gallery unveiling will be paired with the opening of the new Studio M gallery, which will feature Art as Journal,photography by Shari Wilkins and Laura Ruth Bidwell.
The 100-square-foot circus lot diorama will return to its space at the center of the gallery. It was hand-carved by Dr. Robert Immel, a Massillon dentist, primarily with dental tools, over a 50-year period. The surrounding walls and cases will be refreshed with a new selection of posters, photographs, figurines, drawings and paintings, and circus equipment.
Those objects will address six topics: marketing the circus (banners, posters, programs, handbills); the sideshow (figurines and sideshow cards), celebrities of the circus (photographs of famous personalities); accoutrements (an animal prod and a large mallet for pounding tent stakes); the circus in contemporary culture (circus handkerchiefs and circus wrap-arounds); and renditions of the circus (paintings and photographs by other artists). Artifacts are primarily from the Museum’s permanent collection.
Visitors will see an Annie Oakley doll, a Buffalo Bill Exposition map, a Barnum and Bailey ad, a Cole Bros. circus train poster, and Wallenda family accessories.
Craig Joseph, former owner and curator of Translations Art Gallery, who has guest curated several previous exhibits at the Massillon Museum, is orchestrating the gallery update. “Refreshing the exhibit surrounding the Immel Circus has been a fun project because the Museum’s collection of circus artifacts is vast and varied. I’m excited to watch people interact with objects that have never been on display before, some of them immediately recognizable and some of them just plain weird,” Joseph said.
In addition to the new circus Studio M exhibitions, guests at the reception on September 22 can see the main gallery exhibition, Moniker: Identity Lost and Found. The circus exhibit will be on longterm view; Art as Journal can be seen through November 4; and Moniker will continue until October 21.
Following the reopening night, patrons are advised to call ahead when planning a visit the circus gallery, as there may be times when it is temporarily closed to accommodate construction of the 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.  A visit to MassMu is always free, and free parking is available on adjacent city streets and in nearby city lots. For more information, call the Museum at 330-833-4061 or visitmassillonmuseum.org.