A celebration of 250 years of circus in Great Britain, this exhibition shines a spotlight on the remarkable stories behind the much-loved spectacle.
As well as celebrating all the drama of the big top, Circus! Show of Shows explores the hidden histories of women performers and black circus artists, Sheffield’s own circus story, the changing attitudes towards animal performance, and the enduring influence of circus on popular culture.
Highlights include one of the world’s most famous circus paintings, Degas’ breath-taking Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando (1879), on loan from the National Gallery, alongside crowd-pleasing displays bringing together over 150 objects, from glittering costumes and rare historic posters to films, archive photographs and more.
Circus! Show of Shows is part of Circus 250, a major national exhibition series created in collaboration with one of the UK’s foremost circus experts, Professor Vanessa Toulmin from the University of Sheffield’s School of English.