Explore History In A New Way
Explore Wisconsin’s rich circus heritage at the original winter quarters home of the Ringling Bros. Circus in Baraboo.
Robert L. Parkinson Library & Research Center
Circus World’s Robert L. Parkinson Library and Research Center is the world’s foremost research facility for circus history. The holdings document the history of the American circus from its inception in 1793 to the present day.
It contains a huge collection containing rare photographs, posters, manuscripts and artifacts. With information on some 2,800 American circuses, and a reference file of over 300,000 names of circus performers and employees, it is a prime source of information for enthusiasts and scholars of the circus from all over the world.
415 Lynn St.
Baraboo, Wisconsin 53913
Open by appointment year round Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. Please call 608-356-8341 and ask for the library for additional information.
Tour Historic Ringlingville
Throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, the Ringling show would return to Baraboo after their tour had ended to start preparing for the next season. The winter months were busy, repairing and repainting equipment, designing and fabricating props and wardrobe, contracting performers, planning the route, contracting railroads to haul the train, and pulling together artwork for new advertising campaigns. They also cared for the animals which in 1916 consisted of: five hundred horses and ponies, 29 elephants, 15 camels and about 20 other hay eating animals, plus tigers, lions, monkeys, and birds including ostrich. Of the 25 Ringling structures that once existed in Baraboo, 10 winter quarters buildings remain today; all National Historic Landmark Structures. They are the largest grouping of circus structures in America.
Circus World’s pride and joy is the largest collection of authentic circus wagons on earth. This colossal congress contains over 260 wagons and vehicles from large, medium, and small shows as well as carnivals. They were gathered from places far and wide, across the United States and England, some in good shape, some neglected, and still others were basket cases… but each one has a story to tell. They are beautifully restored by the talented craftspeople of Circus World, the parade wagons are rolling masterpieces of the woodcarver’s art, while the baggage wagons carried all of the equipment used by the show. Guided tours are offered daily from May 20 – August 28, 2022 @ 12:30pm beginning outside the Wagon Pavilion.