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Preservation Project Update

2 December 2011

Dear Circus collectors, scholars and historians, representatives of collections and archives, and friends:

Many of you have participated in one of several meetings held in 2009-2010 during which experts in the field collectively confirmed the need for an international platform for the preservation of Circus memorabilia and memory. Participants in those meetings identified the need to:

  1. Create a searchable database of collections of Circus documentation and artifacts;
  2. Develop a comprehensive set of circus terminology, including synonyms, across several languages to assist with the proper identification and cataloging of circus ephemera, to facilitate research and scholarly exchange, and to aid the media and public in appreciating and describing Circus arts; and
  3. Establish a database of scholars and historians in the field of Circus and their publications.

In addition, the Italian Circus documentation center (CEDAC) offered to share technology to enable collaborative, corroborated research and suggested a pilot project. At the final meeting held in Wiesbaden, experts explored the possibility of sharing or linking digital collections and/or identifying options for digitizing additional content held by private collectors to increase access to important Circus documentation and artifacts. More information about these exploratory meetings and outcomes can be found at:

Based on the above, the Federation developed and finalized in April 2011 a proposal for a five-year plan to guide continued work on the Preservation Project. This proposal included steps to undertake the above-mentioned activities but also focused on the longer-term development of a proposed web portal that would bring together Circus content, facilitate scholarly research through identification of researchers and sharing of published resources, and serve as an interactive platform to promote, discuss and exchange information about Circus.

The following summarizes work undertaken since April 2011 and invites your participation in areas of interest:

  1. New Website: The Federation is working with LunarCow, a U.S. based webdesigner, to develop a new website that will meet many of the needs identified in the Five Year Plan. The new website will be launched in January 2012 during the 36th Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo.
  2. Database of Collections: The Federation has maintained on its website a list of libraries, museums and archives holding Circus collections. That list will be incorporated into the new website with a limited search function. Ongoing efforts will focus on incorporating general descriptions of the collections and continuing exploration of the possibility of incorporating this material and/or linking with the SIBMAS database of libraries and museums for the performing arts when that database is developed.
  3. Sharing of Digitized Content: An informal group comprising representatives of the Ringling Museum, Jaap Best Collection/Tylers Museum, the Milner Library, CEDAC, and Circus World Museum have continued to explore options for sharing digitized Circus content. The Federation also has consulted digitization experts and webdesigners to identify options, costs and ways forward. In September 2011, the Federation had a positive meeting with the Technical Director of the World Digital Library (WDL) to discuss collaboration. Represented by Dr. Valeria Bolgan, Head of Cultural Relations and Research CEDAC, Verona, Italy, the Federation also participated in the WDL annual Partners’ meeting in Munich, Germany in November. The Federation and a number of collections currently are applying for partnership status with the WDL. Collections interested in the WDL initiative should contact the Federation at
  4. Researchers/Publications Database: Led by Federation advisor Rodney Huey, the Federation has developed an initial database of circus scholars and historians who have agreed to be listed on the new Federation. Publications also will be listed (including downloads and/or links, where available). Researchers interested in being included on the initial list and/or including scholarly publications and/or articles should contact Rodney Huey at Additional scholars will be invited to be included following the launch of the new website.
  5. Circus Terminology: With input from the Ringling Museum and Milner Library, the Federation has developed an initial list of Circus terminology for the media focusing on terms related to performance. The Federation wishes to establish a working group to test, translate into additional languages, and finalize a “Media Guide to the Circus”. The Guide, which will be launched in 2012, is sponsored by Sirkus Finlandia and will be edited by Rodney Huey. Persons interested in reviewing and contributing to the Media Guide should contact the Federation at All contributors (and/or their institutions) will be acknowledged in the publication. A meeting to review the draft and to shape the final product will be held in Monaco on Friday, January 19.

Thank you for your continuing interest and support for Circus.

Best regards,
Laura van der Meer