365 Things to Do in Memphis #53: Visit the Circus

365 Things to Do in Memphis #53: Visit the Circus

Assignment #53 in the 365 Things to Do in Memphis is to visit the circus - the Clyde Parke Circus.

Clyde Park Circus at the Pink Palace Museum

The Cylde Parke Circus has all of the elements of a real circus - there are animals, acrobats, a midway, carnies - only in miniature.

The circus was designed and built entirely by one man - Clyde Parke. According to the Pink Palace, Parke started working on the 15 foot-long circus when he found himself out of work duing the Great Depression:

"Rather than let his situation defeat him, he used his newfound free time to focus on his passion - he began creating the elaborate miniature circus that would consume his life for the next 30 years."

Clyde Parke Circus, Pink Palace Museum, Memphis, Tenn.

Parke worked up to 18 hours every day on the tiny circus, carving the audience and animals, rigging up the big top and then animating 98 percent of it with an elaborate pulley system. He donated it to the Pink Palace in 1970.

Clyde Parke circus, Pink Palace Museum, Memphis, Tenn.

Now, the circus lives on the second floor of the museum, encased in glass. You can walk around the whole thing (and see into the circus' mechanical underbelly).

After a motionless decade, the circus has been restored. 

Operating times: 

Monday – Friday at 11:00am

Saturday at 11:00am and 2:00pm

Sunday at 2:00pm

Go there:

Clyde Parke Circus

Pink Palace Museum

3050 Central Avenue
Memphis, TN 38111
(901) 320-6320

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