RUN AWAY TO THE CIRCUS THIS SUMMER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Experience the excitement of the circus this summer with THRILLS & CHILLS! THE FANTASTIC WORLD OF THE AMERICAN CIRCUS at the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery. Posters that advertised circus acts and banners giving a teaser to the wonders of sideshows are as colorful as the spectacles they promise and the true focus of this summer’s festive exhibition. THRILLS & CHILLS! THE FANTASTIC WORLD OF THE AMERICAN CIRCUS opens on June 11, 2015 and will remain on view until September 4. The exhibition is free and open to the public, and summer gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 12-4 p.m.; Saturday 1-5 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday. Beginning Wednesday, August 26, 2015 the Gallery will assume academic year hours: Monday through Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 1-5 p.m. The Gallery will be closed July 4, 2015 in observance of Independence Day. The Fine Arts Gallery is located in Cohen Memorial Hall, 1220 21st Avenue South, on the western edge of the Peabody College campus.
THRILLS & CHILLS! brings to life both the promotion of circuses and sideshows and the lived experience of the circus-goer. The exhibition centers on several rare vintage circus posters, now in the Peabody College Collection of the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery, that advertised the big circuses as they traveled through Nashville. Also on view are painted sideshow banners, piquing one’s imagination as to the human “oddities” outside the big top. Both vintage banners, on loan from a private collection, and contemporary banners, painted by Glen C. Davies, are included. Banners and posters built excitement around the show that was to come, drawing a wide-ranging public curious to see amazing feats of man and beast.
The traveling circus was an event personally experienced by a broad swath of Americans in the mid-twentieth century, and works such as photographs, toys, and a fun house mirror from the collection of the Tennessee State Museum contextualize the experience of the circus-goers: who they were, what they experienced, and perhaps even why some ran away with these bizarre troupes.
THRILLS & CHILLS! THE FANTASTIC WORLD OF THE AMERICAN CIRCUS is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and curated by Joseph S. Mella, director and Margaret F. M. Walker, art curator assistant.