Movie enthusiasts of "Night at the Museum" have to stop in for a visit to New Hampton's Carnegie Cultural Center. If this place came alive at night it would be a real circus! Kids of all ages will enjoy the 23-foot long diorama "Main Street Circus Parade" where elephants shuffle in brightly colored advertisements and circus wagons parade through New Hampton circa 1910. In the diorama "Under the Big Top" the fun continues with three bustling circus rings and two circus stages. The ringmaster calls to announce the next exotic act while acrobats dangle high above the cheering crowd. Visitors can enjoy the handcrafted models while they learn about real circus companies like the Gollmar Brothers who regularly brought their menagerie wagons to Chickasaw County in the early 1900s.
This eclectic toy museum also has exhibits about steam engines, dollhouses, license plates, tractors, and farms. It is a rich collection of local history, local talent and local hobby. The Doc & Mabel Tunnell Collection, assembled by a New Hampton's optometrist and his wife, features historic eyeglasses with distinguishing pairs for the eskimo, sportsman, and 19th century automobile driver. Downstairs in the Railroad Room a large interpretive model of Chickasaw County has three operating train lines that the visitor can turn on and off. Booklets describe the individual towns and signage teaches about railroad slang, structures and equipment. Ring the railroad crossing bell. Get the Great Western engine up to full speed. Find out the job requirements of gandy dancers, lizard scorchers, air monkeys and car whackers. Read a silly poem by local legend "Blackie." Have fun!
Located in one of the of the original Carnegie libraries, the Carnegie Cultural Center is dedicated to the arts, history and cultural awareness. It is located at 7 North Water Avenue, New Hampton, just off the downtown's main street. Visit www.carnegieculturalcenter.org to find seasonal hours, temporary exhibits and special events.
Photo: Summer hours.