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The Borg couple’s story is captivating and their passion contagious. This is quite something for these two doctors who have devoted their lives to the circus.

Because there are passions so devouring that they take over your whole life. Did Gérard Borg suspect, when he was a child, that the circus would take him to the four corners of the world? Did his wife Jeanne-Yvonne suspect, when she married him, that together they would build one of the world’s finest collections of circus arts?

But what is the point of putting together such a collection if it cannot be seen, if no one can admire it? Jeanne-Yvonne and Gérard Borg are happy to lend their exceptional collection to exhibitions and, at the moment, it is their collection that is being honored in the museums of the Rouen agglomeration. The 9th edition of the “Time of Collections” celebrates the circus and the acrobats thanks to loans from major institutions, but especially thanks to the Borg collection. An overview of what awaits you, until May 17, 2022.

Article produced in partnership with the Réunion des Musées Métropolitains de Rouen

To the Arts and Circus, at the Museum of Fine Arts

It’s impossible to come to Rouen without visiting its Fine Arts Museum, especially since its permanent collections are free. The museum also offers temporary exhibitions that have never disappointed me. The current exhibition “Cirque et saltimbanques, aux arts et au cirque”, is no exception to this happy tradition. Dare to cross the small tent that welcomes you for a dive into the history of the modern circus, from the 1760s to the interwar period.

The circus in the spotlight in Rouen's museums: a tour of the exhibitions to discover 3

This exhibition is a show that begins with posters announcing the arrival of the circus in the city and continues by presenting the tradition of the equestrian circus, the architecture of circuses (whether they are solid or demountable), the power of bodies (acrobats, trapeze artists, wrestlers), the tamers and animals and finally the circus in art with several modern works. In this last part, one can admire works by Léger, Zadkine or Dufy.

The circus in the spotlight in Rouen's museums: a tour of the exhibitions to discover 8
Fernand Léger, the Medrano Circus, Centre Pompidou

Also to be seen at the Musée des Beaux Arts is an exhibition devoted to the Fiedländer printing house, which was renowned in its day for advertising the circus and acrobatic troupes, as well as photographs of the American circus between the two world wars.

Rouen Museum of Fine Arts
Every day except Tuesdays
Esplanade Marcel-Duchamp, Rouen

Circus and Japan, at the Museum of Natural History

A few steps away from the Fine Arts Museum, the Natural History Museum honors Japan by exhibiting prints from the Edo and Meiji periods. It offers a vision of the circus quite different from the one presented in the neighboring museum.

Nowadays very popular, Japanese prints were, in their time, only a flyer to be thrown away after the show. The museum, ensuring its role as a transmitter of knowledge and techniques, presents the method of making a print with wooden matrices, and confronts the works with naturalized animals that can be found in some posters.

A surprising and original exhibition that will also charm the young public.

Beauvoisine Museums
Every day except Mondays
198 rue Beauvoisine, Rouen

Dressed in light, at the industrial museum of the Corderie Vallois

The fascinating Musée de la Corderie Vallois, which showcases a superb local industrial heritage, presents the exhibition “En habits de lumière”: costumes, posters, drawings, models and accessories that recall the history of the circus from the 1960s to the 1980s.

From Mister Loyal to the riders, clowns, acrobats and trainers, all the actors of the circus are highlighted in this exhibition.

The circus in the spotlight in Rouen's museums: a tour of the exhibitions to discover 14
View of the exhibition

Industrial Museum of the Vallois Rope Factory
Every day except Monday morning
185 route de Dieppe, Notre-Dame-de-Bondeville

Buffalo Bill, an acrobat from the West, at the Fabrique des Savoirs

William Cody, better known by his nickname Buffalo Bill, was a buffalo hunter who created “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show” between 1882 and 1912. This show was a resounding success and was performed all over the world. The arrival of a Buffalo Bill show was always an event: the camp was huge and impressive posters announced the arrival of the show.

The exhibition at the Fabrique des Savoirs retraces the arrival in France of this western acrobat. Posters, photographs, costumes, press articles… give a glimpse of what this huge show was like.

The circus in the spotlight in Rouen's museums: a tour of the exhibitions to discover 15
Weiner Printing, poster, Circus Art Museum

The Knowledge Factory
Every day except Mondays

Enjoy your visit!

Illustration at the top of the article: Edmond Huez, Ecuyère, Borg collection
Article realized in partnership with the Réunion des Musées Métropolitains de Rouen

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