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Come one, come all! Milner Library hosts Gamma Phi Circus: 90 Years of Tradition exhibit

Celebrate 90 years of Gamma Phi Circus at Milner Library.

Special Collections at Milner Library is pleased to announce the opening of Gamma Phi Circus: 90 Years of Tradition. This exhibit will be on view April 8-May 10 on Floor 6 of Milner Library. Gamma Phi Circus: 90 Years of Tradition celebrates the rich history, unique tradition, and evolution of the oldest collegiate circus in the country.

“Throughout my time at Illinois State University as both a student and staff member, I have attended many performances by Gamma Phi Circus that have left me completely amazed,” said Special Collections Librarian Rainie Themer. “It has been a privilege to dive into the Gamma Phi Circus Archive and to rediscover some of the organization’s major historical moments and to see how much Gamma Phi Circus has grown over its 90-year history.”

Themer identified artifacts, documents, and photographs that showcase the many milestones in Gamma Phi Circus history. All items in this exhibit were curated from the Gamma Phi Circus Archive, which is a part of the larger Circus and Allied Arts Collection found in Special Collections at Milner Library. By reading through scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, timelines compiled by former Gamma Phi Circus directors, and consulting with current Gamma Phi Circus staff, Themer was able to identify monumental achievements in Gamma Phi Circus history that should be highlighted and celebrated during their 90th anniversary.

Marcus Alouan, Gamma Phi Circus director, expresses his excitement about the exhibit, “During my time as director, Gamma Phi Circus has had a really nice working relationship with Milner Library and Special Collections. Over the past year, our friendship has grown and has culminated as we celebrate our 90th anniversary.” Alouan said. “It has been wonderful to see photos from the past that bring our history to life. It is a pleasure to work with people who not only love history, but who also love the circus—and Rainie is that person!”

Gamma Phi Circus is America’s oldest collegiate circus and will be celebrating their 90th anniversary at Illinois State University with three performances and a carnival on April 12-13, 2019. For more information about the upcoming shows and to purchase tickets, visit

Themer adds, “Special Collections is delighted to celebrate this momentous anniversary with Gamma Phi Circus and the greater ISU community through this exhibit.”

The exhibit is open and free to view during Milner Library hours of operation.