Ohio’s Miniature Circus

The Miniature Circus Features 2,620 hand-carved pieces

Tucked away in the second floor of the Massillon Museum (MassMu), visitors of all ages are delighted to find a 100-square-foot miniature circus containing 2,620 hand-carved components.

The late Dr. Robert Immel relived his fond memories of going to the circus as a child by carving tiny circus figures beginning when he returned from World War II. By the time he donated his imaginative circus lot to MassMu in 1995, it used 36 elephants, 186 horses, 102 assorted animals, 91 wagons, 7 tents, and 2207 people to depict vignettes of the circus parade, an elephant act, a sideshow barker, and three-ring acts in the big top.

Can you find a vet treating a sick zebra, workers repairing a fire-damaged wagon, a crew preparing food for the menagerie, a team sledgehammering a tent stake, a boy running for the bathroom with balloons flying behind him, and a man who’s going to lose his job for drinking behind one of the tents?

Surrounding the diorama is a rotating exhibit of circus artifacts from Dr. Immel’s collection.  Guests may see sequined trapeze artists’ costumes, animal trainers’ overalls, P.T. Barnum’s gold tipped cane, Lavinia and Tom Thumb’s wedding album, clown shoes, colorful posters, or sideshow photographs.

When you visit the Immel Circus, don’t forget to also see the Paul Brown Museum; contemporary art in Studio M, the local history, fine and decorative arts, and photography galleries; and rotating exhibits in the main and lower level galleries. Remember your visit with a local history book or artist-made memento from the unique shop.

The Massillon Museum is located at a 121 Lincoln Way East (Ohio Route 172) in the heart of downtown Massillon.  Admission and adjacent street parking are free.  For more information, call 330-833-4961 or visit massillonmuseum.org.