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From Ancient Etruria to the American Big Top

Published September 24, 2015

While a diverse selection from the Permanent Collection runs concurrently for visitors, the two new exhibitions opening on October 16, 2015 are of historic circus photographs from The Ringling and an exhibition by Professor Nancy de Grummond that celebrates International Archaeology Day.

Joan of Arc

Frederick Whitman Glasier, “Joan of Arc,” circa 1912. The Ringling Brothers Circus created an extravaganza in honor of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc in 1412. The show was billed as a “Matchless Spectacular Sensation of the Age.”

Dr. de Grummond, Director of Excavations at Cetamura del Chianti in Italy, has been  overseeing the 3-D printing of ancient pottery at the Facility for Arts Research. The artifacts were discovered as fragments during archeological digs beginning in the 1970s and they reveal daily activities of the area’s many inhabitants. Many of the archeological finds have been dated to the Etruscan civilization from around 800-300 BC. A unique feature of this exhibition is the “touch tour” that invites all audience members to hold 3-D printed replications of the pottery of antiquity. On International Archaeology Day, students from the Visual Disabilities Program will be on hand to allow visitors to experience what archaeological “reconstruction” is like by piecing back together smashed terracotta flower pots! Events for the exhibition are sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America.

Frederick Whitman Glasier: Circus Photographs has been loaned to The Museum of Fine Arts from The Ringling Museum of Art.

The timing is perfect since the Florida State University Flying High Circus student performers are welcoming visitors to several events on campus in October. The Flying High students are active in every phase of the FSU circus, from building the Big Top to creating their costumes to delivering their performances. Circus life has been captivating audiences since Glasier first pursued his own interest in photographing strong men, beautiful acrobats, Native American performers, sharpshooters, clowns, grips, teamsters and hucksters. It is through Glasier’s preserved glass negatives in the Ringling Collection that we can appreciate his documentation of the heyday of major circuses and the life on the road.