At the 2019 IJA Festival, I was asked by a number of people why I didn’t bring the Museum of Juggling History collection like I did two years earlier. I explained that I couldn’t bring the collection and be the Festival Director at the same time. When I attended the European Juggling Convention a few weeks later, I had to again disappoint jugglers by telling them that I wasn’t able to bring any of the museum collection.
The Museum of Juggling History began in June of 2012, when I (David Cain) purchased a set of Van Wyck clubs. I had always wanted a set of Van Wycks due to their historical value as well as their connection to me geographically. Edward Van Wyck made his clubs in nearby Cincinnati, Ohio. After purchasing the clubs, I decided to pursue a long time dream of putting together a collection of historical juggling props that could be displayed as an exhibit at juggling festivals and conventions. With initial advice from Dick Franco and donations from Michael Chirrick, Tommy Curtin, and Anthony Gatto, the collection got off to a running start. The international juggling community threw their support at effort through donations, advice, and referrals. Special thanks goes to Scott Seltzer for donating the hosting space for the museum website. What started out as an idea for a small traveling exhibit turned into the world’s largest collection of historical juggling props, photos, and posters. The museum now consists of three rooms of displayed props, an archive room featuring over 15,000 photos, numerous magazines, and 200 books, and a storage room filled with extra props and hundreds of posters. The collection is continually growing, with new acquisitions every month.
For those who were disappointed about me not bringing the collection to the IJA Festival and for those who have not been able to visit the museum yet, I recently recorded a guided tour of the museum, including some amazing props that I received at the festival, just for eJuggle. The following video shows the first half of the upstairs portion of the museum, which features props from many of the greatest performing jugglers of the past 140 years. In the second article in this series, we’ll look at the rest of the upstairs portion of the museum. A third article will examine the downstairs portion of the museum. So sit back and enjoy the tour. If you want to know more about any of the items in the museum or the jugglers who used them, please visit the museum website. While it needs to be updated, most of the props and jugglers are discussed there.