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Future of Circus World Museum debated

Circus World
Circus World

LAKE DELTON, Wisc (WSAU)   The future of the Circus World Museum in Baraboo generated a debate yesterday among those testifying at a legislative hearing on the proposed state budget. The Joint Finance Committee heard comments in Lake Delton about Governor Scott Walker’s two-year budget – which would put the State Historical Society in charge of the circus museum. The state now owns it, but a private group of donors operates it.

According to W-I-S-C T-V in Madison, one donor accused museum directors of mismanagement during the budget hearing. But museum director Steve Freese said the remark was mis-information from those who support the Historical Society’s takeover – and he said the current public-private set-up is best. The T-V station said the museum and the Historical Society have had an ongoing dispute over debt.

Assembly Democrat Fred Clark of Sauk City has asked for a state audit of the museum’s finances, and the relationship between the museum and the Historical Society. Before the hearing, jugglers entertained people and wore T-shirts reading, “Save the Circus.” An antique circus wagon was parked outside while it rained – and a critic told the committee quote, “None of us would transport our prized car or antique in an open trailer in this kind of weather.”

Walker told W-I-S-C afterward that his only goal was to keep the Circus World Museum viable and open to visitors.