Project Description

Exhibitions of freaks, monstrosities, and marvels of nature were seen in traveling shows throughout Europe and America during the Victorian period. The Sideshow became a much anticipated part of the circus in the late 19th century. Typically, these shows included human “abnormalities” such as “fat ladies,” giants and dwarfs, “armless wonders,” and “four-legged girls;” illusions and magicians; automatons and curious inventions. Some shows also exhibited deformed animals (such as two-headed cows, one-eyed pigs, and four-horned goats) and famous hoaxes, or simply “science gone wrong” exhibits. Though not destined for the road as part of a Freakshow, the natural oddities in Berkshire Museum’s collection exhibited just beyond this wall are a mirror of the circus sideshow and reflect the kind of strange and uncommon oddities found in nature that one might have gawked at in a circus sideshow. These objects were collected in the early twentieth century for scientific purposes. Brace yourself for the unnatural natural phenomena to come!