Exhibition Press Information»
The Morris Miniature Circus: Return of the Little Big Top
Sacred Realm: Blessings & Good Fortune Across Asia
In the Cotsen Gallery, Neutrogena Wing
Sunday February 28, 2016 to March 19, 2017
What more can we ask than for blessings and good fortune? Whether perceived as miraculous boons or a response to ceremonious prayer, blessings and good fortune come in many forms and bring joy, comfort, and balance to our lives. God, deities, nature spirits, and other unseen forces exist in human belief, which can bring both great harm and great fortune to people on earth. Almost universally, yet through varied means and belief systems, people have found ways to connect with these powers to bring stability to their lives, to divert ill-will and harm, and to attract love, fertility, prosperity, longevity, and safety ... essentially, to harness protection, blessings, and good fortune for themselves, their loved ones, and their communities.
This exhibit invites visitors to explore some of the ways in which people seek and secure blessings and good fortune in Asia, a vast and culturally diverse region. Presented are amulets, votive offerings, and ritual objects – objects with other-worldly, divine qualities. These intricate and thoughtfully made works of art are drawn mostly from the museum’s Asian collection and are exhibited together with unique media and engaging interactive gallery components.
"Sacred Realm” reflects wide-ranging practices of belief that, at the same time, depict the common human desire to attain balance and harmony in the physical and spiritual realms of life. Photo: Ancestor Spirit House, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Felicia Katz-Harris].
In the East Bartlett Gallery
April 3, 2016–January 8, 2017
After 30 years, the beloved Morris Miniature Circus returns to the Museum of International Folk Art. Built over the course of forty years by W.J. “Windy” Morris (1904–1978) of Amarillo, Texas, the Morris Miniature Circus is a 3/8”-scale circus model that was acquired by the museum in 1984 and exhibited in 1986. In 2016, the museum will restore and install the Circus once again.
The Morris Circus is modeled after a 1930s “railroad circus,” back in the days when a circus would come to town by rail, set up in a day, perform for a local audience, then pack up and move on to the next venue. Morris fondly remembered the excitement that accompanied the arrival of the circus of his youth—with its steam calliope, horse-drawn circus wagons, and parade of performers and animals—and sought to preserve those memories when he began the Morris Circus in the 1930s. The Circus consists of an estimated 100,000 pieces, all made by Morris through a variety of techniques from woodcarving and painting to clay modeling and mold making. The return of the Morris Miniature Circus will be accompanied by a range of activities and public programs. PHOTO: Detail of the Morris Miniature Circus, 1930s-1978, by W.J. “Windy” Morris (Amarillo, Texas). Gift of Mrs. Jo A. Ellett, Museum of International Folk Art (A.1984.433.1V)