Bill Brinley miniature circus designs in collections and exhibitions

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Brinley miniature circus


A. Bill Brinley miniature circus designs in collections


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1920s

c. 1925-40 - five-ring circus

William R. Brinley. (c. 1925-40). W. R. Brinley five-ring circus. Approx. 3500 pieces. Mixed media. Original layout: 53’ long and 22’ deep.


B. Bill Brinley miniature circus designs in exhibitions


For researchers, the exhibitions listed below should be closely compared with the secondary and primary source documentation listed in the following historical information section. This list below is based on those, at times, limited sources.


1930s

1934 - Lyman Hall High School, Wallingford, CT

c. 1934. Brinley’s miniature circus at Lyman Hall High School, Wallingford, CT.

> Exhibited Brinley’s miniature circus.

1937 - Unknown venue, East Hartford, CT

16 - 18 September 1937. [Unknown venue], East Hartford, Connecticut. (C00484).

> Miniature circus exhibited by W. R. Brinley.

1938 - Hamid’s Million Dollar Pier hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey

21 June - 3 September 1938. W. R. Brinley’s miniature circus at Hamid’s Million Dollar Pier hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey.

> Exhibited: W. R. Brinley’s miniature circus.

1938 - Trenton Fair, New Jersey

c. October 1938. Brinley’s miniature circus at Trenton Fair, New Jersey.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1938 - Cetlin & Wilson shows, number and locations unknown

c. 1938. Brinley’s miniature circus exhibited at Cetlin & Wilson shows, number and locations unknown.

1939 - Hartford Electric Light Company

c. January 1939. Brinley’s miniature circus in Hartford Electric Light Company display window, presumably Hartford, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1939 - Newington Home for Crippled Children

10 - 11 February 1939. Brinley’s miniature circus at Newington Home for Crippled Children, Newington, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: William R. Brinley’s miniature circus.

1939 - Shrine Circus ticket office, Hartford, CT

c. April 1939. Brinley’s miniature circus in display windows of Shrine Circus ticket office, Hartford, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.



Click the following link to see the parallel webpage - William R. Brinley miniature circus designs - historical collection.



1940s

1940 - Home Progress and Foods Exposition, New Haven, CT

25 - 31 March 1940. Brinley’s miniature circus at Home Progress and Foods Exposition, New Haven, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1941 - Holy Trinity Church carnival, Wallingford, CT

25 - 30 August 1941. Brinley’s miniature circus at Holy Trinity Church carnival, Wallingford, Connecticut.

> Exhibited Brinley’s miniature circus.



"... When the war broke out [, the circus] was packed away in winter quarters in Wallingford, Connecticut. Bill was [partly] stationed in Alaska with the Air Force. In his duffle bag he carried his jacknife, jigsaw and wood, and in spare moments he carved some of the animals to add to his circus." [Excerpt from (c. 1965-67). W. R. Brinley miniature circus, World’s Greatest Miniature Circus, now at Steamtown U.S.A., Bellows Falls, VT, Official Magazine. See entry below.]

"[Brinley] was drafted in 1942 and discharged in 1945..." [See: Morago, G. Phillip. (18 June 1989) Hartford Courant below.]



1946 - Frozen Foods Exposition, New York

c. 25 - 31 March 1946. Brinley’s miniature circus at Frozen Foods Exposition, Park Avenue Armory, New York.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1947 - Hearn’s Department Store, New York

10 - 23 February 1947. Brinley’s miniature circus at American Hobby Show, Hearn’s Department Store, New York, New York.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1947 - Rike-Kumler Co., Dayton, Ohio

8 - 13 May 1947. Brinley’s miniature circus at Rike-Kumler Co., Dayton, Ohio.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1947 - Riverview Park, Chicago, Illinois

(unknown date) - 30 June 1947. Brinley’s miniature circus at Riverview Park, Chicago.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1947 - L. S. Ayres & Co. department store, Indianapolis, Indiana

5 - 19 July 1947. Brinley’s miniature circus at L. S. Ayres & Co. department store, Indianapolis, Indiana.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1947 - YMCA, Middletown, CT

28 - 29 November 1947. Brinley’s miniature circus at YMCA Gymnasium, Middletown, CT.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s five-ring miniature circus.

1948 - John Shillito Department Store, Cincinnati

10 - 15 May 1948. Brinley’s miniature circus at John Shillito Department Store, Cincinnati, Ohio

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1949 - First Barnum Festival, Bridgeport, CT

10 - 14 June 1949. Barnum Festival, Bridgeport, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.


1950s

1950 - Connecticut School for Boys, Meriden, CT

26 February 1950. Brinley’s miniature circus at Connecticut School for Boys, Meriden, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.



"In 1950, Bill signed a contract with Hopalong Cassidy to exhibit the miniature circus in various cities as advanced publicity for the Cole Brothers Circus. Brinley’s circus became ’The Hopalong Cassidy Miniature Circus’..." [Excerpt from (c. 1965-67). W. R. Brinley miniature circus, World’s Greatest Miniature Circus, now at Steamtown U.S.A., Bellows Falls, VT, Official Magazine. See entry below.]



1950 - New York Infirmary, New York

13 June 1950. Brinley’s miniature circus at New York Infirmary, 321 East 15th Street, New York, to benefit the infirmary’s building fund.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1950 - Cole Bros. Circus, Yankee Stadium, New York

c. 21 June 1950. Cole Bros. Circus, Yankee Stadium, New York.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1950 - Saks Fifth Avenue, New York

19 June - 1 July 1950. Brinley’s miniature circus at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1950 - John Wanamaker department store, Philadelphia

10 - 21 July 1950. Brinley’s miniature circus at John Wanamaker department store, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in conjunction with Cole Bros. Circus in the city.

> Exhibited Brinley’s miniature circus.

1950 - Edward Malley Company department store, New Haven, CT

31 August - 9 September 1950. Brinley’s miniature circus at Edward Malley Company department store, New Haven, CT.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1950 - R. H. White department store, Boston, MA

11 - 23 September 1950. The Hopalong Cassidy Miniature Circus at R. H. White department store, Boston, Massachusetts, a benefit for the Jimmy Fund cancer drive.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1950 - Broadway Department Store, Los Angeles (Westchester), CA

13 - 19 October 1950. Brinley’s miniature circus at Broadway Department Store, Los Angeles (Westchester), California.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1950 - Broadway Department Store, Los Angeles

23 - 28 October 1950. Brinley’s miniature circus at Broadway Department Store, Los Angeles, California.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1950 - Weinstock Lubin & Co., Sacramento, California

1 - 14 November 1950. Brinley’s miniature circus at Weinstock Lubin & Co., Sacramento, California (for the benefit of the Sacramento County Community Chest Campaign).

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1950 - Zion Co-op Mercantile Inst. (Z.C.M.I.), Salt Lake City, Utah

20 November - 3 December 1950. Brinley’s miniature circus at Zion Co-op Mercantile Inst. (Z.C.M.I.), Salt Lake City, Utah.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1951 - Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co, Chicago

c. 2 - 15 January 1951. Hopalong Cassidy miniature circus at Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co, Chicago, Illinois.

> Exhibited: presumably Brinley’s miniature circus.

1951 - Denholm & McDay Co., Worcester, MA

16 - 21 April 1951. Brinley’s miniature circus at Denholm & McDay Co., Worcester, Massachusetts.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1951 - Howland Hughes Co., Waterbury, CT

24 - 28 April 1951. Brinley’s miniature circus at Howland Hughes Co., Waterbury, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1951 - Howland Dry Goods Co., Bridgeport, CT

1 - 5 May 1951. Brinley’s miniature circus at Howland Dry Goods Co., Bridgeport, CT.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1951 - A. G. Pollard Co. department store, Lowell, MA

7 - 12 May 1951. Brinley’s miniature circus at A. G. Pollard Co. department store, Lowell, Massachusetts.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1951 - McAuslan & Wakelin Co., Holyoke, MA

15 - 19 May 1951. Brinley’s miniature circus at McAuslan & Wakelin Co., Holyoke, Massachusetts.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1951 - Moran’s furniture store, New Britain, CT

21 - 26 May 1951. Brinley’s miniature circus at Moran’s furniture store, New Britain, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1951 - James H. Bunce Co, department store, Middletown, CT

31 May - 6 June 1951. Brinley’s miniature circus at James H. Bunce Co, department store, Middletown, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1951 - Scranton Dry Goods, Scranton, PA

11 - 23 June 1951. Brinley’s miniature circus at Scranton Dry Goods, Scranton, Pennsylvania.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1951 - Sage-Allen department store, Hartford, CT

24 - 28 July 1951. Hopalong Cassidy Miniature Circus at Sage-Allen department store, Hartford, CT.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1951 - Stewart & Co., Baltimore, MD

8 - 13 October 1951. Brinley’s miniature circus at Stewart & Co., Baltimore, Maryland.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.



"In 1952, the circus once again became the Brinley Miniature Circus..." [Excerpt from (c. 1965-67). W. R. Brinley miniature circus, World’s Greatest Miniature Circus, now at Steamtown U.S.A., Bellows Falls, VT, Official Magazine. See entry below.]



1953-54 - Hotel Sahara, Las Vegas

c. 15 December 1953 - 1 January 1954. Hotel Sahara, Las Vegas, Nevada.

> William R. Brinley’s miniature circus exhibited.

1954 - Boston Store, Milwaukee

15 - 27 March 1954. Brinley’s miniature circus at Boston Store, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

> Exhibited William R. Brinley’s miniature circus.

1955 - Unspecified department store, Holyoke, MA

c. 11 June 1955. Brinley’s miniature circus at unspecified department store, Holyoke, Massachusetts.

> Exhibited Brinley’s miniature circus.

1957 - Greater Hartford Fair

13 - 17 March 1957. Greater Hartford Fair, State Armory, Hartford. (Viewed 5 January 2019. C00479).

> Miniature circus, replica of a five-ring circus of 1920, exhibited by W. R. Brinley.

1957 - Circus-Land, Penn Yan, NY

30 May - 4 September 1957. Brinley’s miniature circus at Circus-Land, Penn Yan, New York.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1957 - Stern’s department store, Philadelphia

23 November - c. 22 December 1957. Brinley’s miniature circus at Stern’s department store, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

> Exhibited William R. Brinley’s miniature circus.

1958 - Circus-Land, Penn Yan, NY

30 May - 1 November 1958. Brinley’s miniature circus at Circus-Land, Penn Yan, New York.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1959 - Plainville Stadium, Plainville, CT

30 May - 4 September 1959. Plainville Stadium, Plainville, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.


1960s

1960 - Forbes & Wallace department store, Springfield, MA

8 - 13 August 1960. Forbes & Wallace department store, Springfield, Massachusetts.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1961 - Malleys department store, New Haven, CT

13 - 18 February 1961. Malleys department store, New Haven, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1961 - Loehmann Chevrolet, Waterbury, CT

22 - 28 February 1961. Loehmann Chevrolet, Waterbury, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1961 - King Cole store, Bridgeport, CT

29 June - 9 July 1961. King Cole store, Bridgeport, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1963 - Connecticut Bank and Trust Company, Hartford

16 - 27 September 1963. Brinley’s miniature circus at Connecticut Bank and Trust Company, Hartford, main lobby.

Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1964 - New York World’s Fair

22 April - 18 October 1964. New York World’s Fair, Queens, New York.

> Exhibited: W. R. Brinley’s second miniature circus.

1965 - Woodstock’s 105th Fair, Woodstock, CT

4 - 6 September 1965. Brinley’s miniature five-ring circus at 105th Fair, Woodstock, CT.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature five-ring circus.

c. 1965-67 - Steamtown, USA, Bellows Falls, Vermont

c. 1965-67, dates and duration unknown. Brinley’s miniature circus at Steamtown, USA, Bellows Falls, Vermont.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.



In 1968, Brinley donated his (first) miniature circus to the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, CT. It has been on view at the museum since, except for a brief, temporary de-installation during a museum renovation in the 1980s and 2011-17, as a result of a tornado disruption at the museum in 2010. (Yes, a tornado!) Part of the miniature circus was reinstalled in 2017.



1970s

1975 - Enfield Square shopping mall, CT

c. 21 - 26 April 1975. Brinley’s Dailey Bros. miniature circus at Enfield Square shopping mall, Enfield, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1976 - Warwick Mall, Warwick, RI

23 - 28 February 1976. Brinley’s Dailey Bros. Circus at Warwick Mall, Warwick, Rhode Island.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s Dailey Bros. miniature circus.

1977 - Meriden Square Shopping Center, CT

26 April - 1 May 1977. Brinley’s Dailey Bros. miniature circus at Meriden Square Shopping Center, CT.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus.

1978 - Westfarms Mall, West Hartford, CT

30 June 1978. Bill Brinley’s Dailey Bros. miniature circus train at Westfarms Mall, West Hartford, CT.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s miniature circus train.

1979 - c. 1980 - Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, travelling exhibition

5 venues: 1979-c. 1980. Three centuries of Connecticut Folk Art at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT (25 September - 18 November 1979); Museum of Art, Science and Industry, Bridgeport, CT (c. 29 November 1979 - 13 January 1980); Lyman Allyn Museum, New London, CT (dates unknown); New Haven Colony Historical Society, New Haven, CT and Creative Arts Workshop, New Haven (c. 30 March - 11 May 1980); and Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield, CT (dates unknown).

> Exhibited: Brinley’s Dailey Bros. miniature circus.


1980s

1980 - Jorgensen Gallery, University of Connecticut, Storrs

10 November - 10 December 1980. William R. Brinley’s Dailey Brothers Miniature Circus at Jorgensen Gallery, University of Connecticut, Storrs.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s Dailey Brothers Miniature Circus.

1981 - Castle Gallery, College of New Rochelle, New York

c. 5 July - 14 August 1981. The Great American Circus: Imagery from a folk art tradition at Castle Gallery, College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, New York.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s Dailey Bros. miniature circus (at least "hand-carved, hand-painted steam calliope from 1929, circus wagons and elephant cars from the 1930’s, and wooden animals such as elephants and baby zebras", and "works from Mr. Brinley’s personal collection of circus memorabilia".)

1981-82 - Robert Hull Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, Burlington

c. November 1981 - 11 January 1982. W. R. Brinley, World’s greatest miniature circus, Robert Hull Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, Burlington.

> Exhibited: "W. R. Brinley, ’World’s greatest miniature circus’ (Dailey Bros.)

1982 - Annmary Brown Library, Brown University, Providence, RI

(date unknown) - 24 November 1982. Brinley’s Daily Bros. miniature circus at Annmary Brown Library, Brown University, Providence, RI, sponsored by the American Society for Theater Research and the Theater Library Assn. (This exhibition also includes a selection of circus memorabilia collected by Bill Brinley.)

1983 - unknown venue, Trumbull, CT

17 - 22 May 1983. Brinley’s miniature circus at unknown venue, Trumbull, Connecticut.

> Exhibited Brinley’s Dailey Bros. miniature circus.

1984 - New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut

11 November - 30 December 1984. W. R. Brinley’s miniature circus at New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: W. R. Brinley’s Dailey Bros. miniature circus.

1985 - Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, Norwalk, CT

c. 1 June - 31 July 1985, extended to 1 September 1985. Brinley’s miniature circus at Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, Norwalk, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: Brinley’s Dailey Bros. miniature circus.

1987 - New Britain Youth Museum

c. October 1987 - 2 January 1988. W. R. Brinley’s second miniature circus at New Britain Youth Museum, New Britain, Connecticut.

> Exhibited: W. R. Brinley’s Dailey Bros. miniature circus.


2010s

2011-12 - Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA

18 November 2011 - 2 January 2012. Under the Big Top: Festival of Trees 2011 at Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

> Exhibited: Selected items from Brinley’s first miniature circus.

2011-12 - Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT

25 November 2011 - 26 February 2012. Toys: Treasures from long ago at Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT.

> Exhibited: Selected items from Brinley’s first miniature circus.

2017-ongoing - Barnum Museum, Bridgeport, CT

mid-October 2017 - ongoing. Barnum’s World of Wonders! at Barnum Museum, Bridgeport.

> Exhibited: A portion of Brinley’s first miniature circus (including the Menagerie Tent, Entrance Tent, and some of the wagons).



See our Design Meriden compilation listing over 1000 exhibitions since 1851, featuring historical design associated with the Meriden area.





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On William R. Brinley miniature circus designs - 1: designs in collections and exhibitions | 2: historical information