July 12, 2010
In 2001 the Hertzberg Circus Collection and Museum in San Antonio, Texas closed. It had been in the old library building on Market Street since 1968 when the San Antonio Public Library moved to a new site. By 2001 the old building was in poor condition and the collection -- books, documents and memorabilia -- was in serious danger. It is now secure and is part of San Antonio's Witte Museum.
In his will Harry Hertzberg indicated that the Witte Museum would receive the collection should the City of San Antonio be unable to retain the collection. It was transferred to the Witte Museum in 2003.
From fall 2009 through winter 2010 the Witte presented an exhibition titled, "Circus Folks: Secrets Behind the Big Top.". In the exhibition catalog a biographical sketch of Harry Hertzberg closed with this: "The Hertzberg Circus Collection is now one of the largest and most impressive collections of circus art and artifacts in the world."
Recently I contacted Amy Fulkerson, Collections Manager at the Witte. I asked why the Hertzberg collection isn't included in the museum's website. She told me, "We are currently redesigning the collections portion of our website. In
the near future we will have a more comprehensive overview of all of the Witte's collections, including the Hertzberg Circus Collection, along with images."
The recently launched Phase I of the Witte's Master Plan includes the Witte Research Center. The Research Center will include visible storage and publically accessible research spaces with a special area dedicated to the circus collection.
The Handbook of Texas Online has an excellent article about the history of the collection and what is in it. Just click here to read it.