Penobscot Marine Museum will open its doors this winter with “The Circus Comes to Town,” a free exhibit for “ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages.” The centerpiece of the exhibit is the Bex Bros. Circus, a display of hundreds of miniature circus figures ranging from elephants and sideshow hawkers to trapeze artists performing under the Big Top.
Also on display will be circus memorabilia, historic photographs, and circus art by Maine artists Alan Fishman, Nancy Morgan-Barnes, and the late Waldo Peirce. The exhibit will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on December 10, 11, 17, 18, 29 and 30, and January 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29.
A special children’s event featuring local author-illustrator Chris Van Dusen is scheduled Saturday, December 17, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Van Dusen will read and sign his book The Circus Ship, and the museum will provide refreshments and engage children with a circus-themed craft project. Children can view the circus exhibit during the free event.
The Bex Bros. Circus, including scale models of the Big Top, a sideshow tent, a circus train, and hundreds of miniature animals, vehicles, and people, is the work of Capt. Les Bex of Camden. A lifelong circus enthusiast, Bex began building circus models at the age of 8 and kept at it for decades. The Bex Bros. Circus appeared in model shows in Camden in the 1970s, but it has not been seen by the public for more than 25 years. At the request of Penobscot Marine Museum, Bex removed the circus from storage and set up the exhibit in the museum’s Main Street Gallery.
Maine’s first maritime museum, Penobscot Marine Museum is home to outstanding collections of marine art and artifacts, small craft, ship models and historic photography. The admission center is at 40 E. Main St. (US Rte. 1) in Searsport, Maine, between Camden, Bangor, and Bar Harbor. More information is at www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org or call 207-548-2529.