|Trapeze exhibit hangs out at Milner|
|Written by Drew Zimmerman, Senior Staff|
|Tuesday, 12 June 2012 17:03|
Milner Library Special Collections is showing the Trapeze Acts of Bloomington–Normal exhibit, which details the history of trapeze performers in the community since the 1800s.
The exhibit was created by Emma McKeon, a seventh grade student at Tri-Valley Middle School for a social studies course. Her project went on to receive an A rating in regionals, an A rating in state, and the "Best Overall" award from the McLean County Museum of History.
"We didn’t know she would be gifting it to us," Maureen Brunsdale, head of Milner Library special collections and rare books, said.
"We worked with Emma in developing the exhibit. We wanted it to catch people’s interests, and once we knew her topic, we helped to answer any questions she had," Brunsdale added.
McKeon’s exhibit contains a photo album, a detailed flip-chart, as well as a scale model of the barn that circus performers had once practiced in.
Although the exhibit went up after the semester ended, it has received a great response from community members, Brunsdale said.
Trapeze acts in Bloomington can be traced as far back as the 1870s when brothers Fred and Howard Green left the city to join the circus. They returned to Bloomington during the winter and set up some rigging in their father’s barn.
The brothers encouraged their friends to practice their aerial acts inside of barns.
By the 1880s, Bloomington became the winter quarters for many aerial acts and trapeze artists based on many factors including accessibility by railway and the cheaper cost of living as opposed to Chicago or St. Louis.
By the turn of the century, 80 to 90 percent of trapeze acts were booked out of Bloomington to perform all over the world, according to Brunsdale.
Other famous acts that used Bloomington as their winter quarters include the Flying Concellos, the Flying Valentinos, and Bob Fisher’s Five Fearless Flyers.
Documentation of trapeze acts started being collected in the 1950s from retired performers to trace Bloomington’s rich history, Brunsdale said.
The exhibit will be on display in Special Collections on the sixth floor of Milner Library through July 16. All major collections are open from 9 a.m. to noon. Additionally, the public can view the exhibit from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and on Tuesdays during normal hours.