San Antonio, Texas
Hertzberg Circus Museum (closed)
210 West Market Street
Harry Hertzberg (1884-1940) was a prominent local lawyer and state senator, who was also gay, according to recent research. Hertzberg and his longtime partner, Tom Scaperlanda, were circus fans who began collecting Big Top memorabilia in the ’20s and amassed one of the largest collections of that type in the country, totaling more than 42,000 items on circus history from 1893 to the 1930s. Among the items collected were a miniature model of a three-ring circus, posters, photographs, sheet music, costumes, literature, and specialty items, such as an 1843 carriage built for Tom Thumb (above), and memorabilia from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows.
The two men left their collection to the City of San Antonio, and, beginning in 1968, many items were on permanent exhibit at this location, a former public library. Unfortunately, in 2001, the museum closed due to the deteriorating condition of the building. Two years later, the city reached an agreement with the Witte Museum to take in the circus collection. The book and document archives are still in the San Antonio Public Library system and are available on an appointment-only basis to researchers (210-207-2500).