On my last visit to the Ringling Circus Museum, I stopped at the Tibbals Learning Center which houses a complete miniature circus created by Howard Tibbals. It is composed of 44,000 pieces depicting life in the circus and its many facets.
It is told that Howard Tibbals fell in love with the circus as a boy and devoted his life to assembling this tiny recreation patterned after the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey combined shows. The time period encompassed the years 1919 to 1938. His figures and portrayals are based on the reality of circus life showing structures and actual staging of this large spectacle. In addition, he has scaled figures that would have been the workers, the actors and the spectators. He has set this particular circus in the town of “Knoxville” and has included factories, stores, railroad stations, cars and, of course, its people.
In 2006, Tibbals Learning Center opened as part of the Ringling Circus Museum. Its centerpiece was the “Howard Brothers Circus” including 3,800 square feet of Howard Tibbals’ circus masterpiece. All of these pieces are scaled to the entire scene and are minutely detailed. (By clicking on each picture below, you can enlarge it.)