Poster of Bullen Brothers Circus, 1955

Run away and join the circus at our new exhibition in the Treasures Gallery.

For more than a century, the circus has been a feature of the Australian entertainment industry, particularly in rural and regional Australia. Take a look at how this sector has changed over time, from early beginnings of travelling sideshows, through to the rise of the contemporary circus.

Early touring circuses featured ‘Wild West’ feats of horsemanship, music hall traditions of clowning, and displays of wild and exotic animals. From the 1960s, the focus shifted to performances of human physicality and storytelling, with modern circuses engaged with formal in circus arts training, and partnering internationally to progress the artform.

This exhibition features posters, images and memorabilia from the Vivian James Carter Collection. With a passion for circuses and carnivals, Vivian James Carter amassed a collection that documents the circus industry across the twentieth century.

Circus: Roll up, Roll up! was curated by Karen Schamberger and is open daily, 9am to 5pm – except Christmas Day (Saturday 25 December 2021) and Good Friday (Friday 15 April 2022).

Hear from the curator

Join curator Karen Schamberger as she takes us on a journey through the Library's newest exhibition in this short video.

Cover image: Bullen Bros. Bullen’s Australia’s largest circus and zoo, 1955,