Annie Block | September 01, 2012
Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages—drumroll, please. The Bard Graduate Center proudly presents all the pomp and pageantry of the big top in the Big Apple. “Circus in the City: New York 1793- 2010,” at the Upper West Side venue through February 3, begins with the rudimentary equestrian displays of the 18th century, rolls along with the massive railroad circuses of the 19th, and culminates with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus of today. Thematic displays spotlight such circus essentials as parades, music, posters, and toys. Lent by the New-York Historical Society, the International Center of Photography, the Library of Congress, and, of course, the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the assembled artifacts and images represent a lot more than mere clowning around. The show juxtaposes the circus’s rise in popularity with New York’s simultaneous ascent as a cultural capital. After all, the city is always some- what of a circus.