It’s Circus Time! exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière
Relive the greatest moments of the circus from here and abroad
October 13, 2021 to March 6, 2022
Montréal, October 12, 2021 – Starting October 13, Pointe-à-Callière is shining a spotlight on the circus arts with It’s Circus Time!, the Museum’s all-new exhibition. An engaging look at the fascinating and always surprising world of the circus, from early European and American troupes to today’s over-the-top international shows.
Through generous loans from some twenty institutions in Canada, the United States, and France, the exhibition features over 350 objects on display. Some moving, some completely mind-boggling, they bear witness to the evolution of this living art form that has thrilled Québec for over 200 years. Costumes, set pieces, works of art, props, a giant scale model, iconic objects, training and backstage equipment—along with supporting archival documents, photos, and videos—take visitors on a journey through time, from England’s first 18th century circuses to today’s gigantic American-style shows. The exhibition also examines the evolution of the circus in Québec, showcasing seven local troupes that have made names for themselves on today’s international scene while making us all proud!
In a colourful and entertaining setting, It’s Circus Time! awakens a sense of wonder, introducing visitors to an extraordinary heritage. A joyful intermingling of grand spectacle and anecdotes filled with delight, surprise, suspense, laughter, and movement to set the mood throughout the exhibition.
Explore the wonderful world of the circus
Upon entering, the exhibition transports visitors to the earliest days of the modern circus as we know it today. It then introduces a few archetypal circus figures whose mere names awaken childhood memories: the ringmaster, the horseman, the acrobat, the clown, and the tamer. Also featured are certain famous personalities who left their mark on circus history, like Philip Astley, equestrian and father of the modern circus; legendary little person Tom Thumb; the Fratellinis, a trio of internationally renowned clowns; and Jules Léotard, inventor of the flying trapeze, who popularized the bodysuits that acrobats wear and that now bear his name.
Québec and Montréal circuses in the spotlight
A full floor of the exhibition is dedicated to the evolution of the circus arts in Québec—from pioneering strongmen, like the famous Louis Cyr, to street performers, the first acrobat families, and modern-day companies whose renown has spread beyond our borders. It’s Circus Time! places a special emphasis on seven Québec-based troupes: Les 7 Doigts, Flip Fabrique, Machine de Cirque, Cirque Alfonse, Cirque Éloize, Cavalia, and Cirque du Soleil.
Visitors also get to peek behind the scenes of the circus, exploring the art form’s various disciplines, life on tour, the preparation that goes into a performance, and post-circus life. It’s a chance to pay tribute to local artisans and creative artists who have garnered accolades for their savoir-faire and inventiveness in creating shows, designing costumes, and staging circus productions.
A show zone allows visitors to relive emotional high points in the Québec circus milieu. A celebration of the originality and daring of these troupes that have set today’s international standards!
Play your part in a fun, family-friendly exhibition
Young and old alike are invited to join the circus! Climb into a mini clown car, test your balance and coordination, and try your hand at an interactive game to discover your inner circus artist! These experiences and more promise to make this exhibition a memorable one for the whole family!
On the tightrope: a funambulist makes an incredible crossing at Pointe-à-Callière
On October 16 and 17, 2021, tightrope walker Laurence T-Vu will perform a spectacular feat at Pointe-à-Callière. Twice a day, at 1 pm and 3 pm, he will walk across a 70-metre rope, strung 10 metres above the ground, over Place Royale in Old Montréal. Thrills, excitement, and hurrahs… guaranteed!
This performance is made possible through the support of the SDC du Vieux-Montréal.
Circus themed activities all season long!
From the month of November to early March, Pointe-à-Callière will be presenting a series of online lectures to coincide with the exhibition, a performance and circus activities for younger children, creative workshops for families during the holiday season, and a program of fun, festive, outdoor events during school break!
More information coming soon on the Museum’s website
Place au cirque! publication
Pointe-à-Callière’s beautifully illustrated Place au cirque! book-magazine traces the captivating history of the circus in Québec, which stretches back over 200 years! It pays tribute to the extraordinary inventiveness and incomparable savoir-faire of circus artists and entrepreneurs, past and present. These men and women—ringmasters, acrobats, clowns, equestrians, tamers, and forces of nature—joined together to push the boundaries, astonishing crowds and firing the imagination. This wonderful publication makes a great souvenir or gift!
Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, 2020. 144 pages. Price: $19.95 + tax and shipping.
Available from the Museum’s online shop
Pointe-à-Callière sincerely thanks the It’s Circus Time! exhibition’s 24 private and institutional lenders and its precious collaborators, without whom this exhibition would not have been possible—including Mucem (Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée), the Musée du cirque du Dr Alain Frère, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Barnum Museum, the Jacob-William Collection, the museums of Châlons-en-Champagne, TOHU-Cité des arts du cirque-Montréal, and all of Montréal and Québec’s circus troupes that generously contributed to the project.
It’s Circus Time! is produced by Pointe-à-Callière and presented by Desjardins.
The project was made possible through the financial support of the City of Montréal and the Government of Québec, and with the support of major sponsors and partners: Air Canada Cargo, InterContinental Montréal, La Presse, and the École nationale de cirque (National Circus School).
About Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex
Pointe-à-Callière, the birthplace of Montréal, is the city’s largest history museum. Rising above a concentrated number of national historic and archaeological sites, the museum’s mission is to raise awareness and foster an appreciation of Montréal’s history, and to forge bonds with regional, national, and international networks.
Project Manager, Communications
Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex
Tel: 514 872-2687 / Cell: 514 829-0955