Paul Miller has been laughed at for most of his life. Not in the sad, pity-inducing way, but as a touring member of the Ringling Bros. Circus where he steered the clown car and strode upon stilts, charming audience members with his comedic exploits. Eventually, however, he wanted to extend the circus's reach—not only to those who yearned for a chance to fly on the trapeze, but to people who, by virtue of their age, background, or disability, doubted their capacity to do so. He created Circus Mojo as a noncompetitive venue for absolutely anyone interested in the big-top arts to discover and showcase their own “mojo,” conducting lessons with a joint emphasis on physical feats and creativity.
Circus Mojo's staff boasts the equipment and expertise to lead classes on plate spinning, clowning, and acrobatics, among several other performance styles. In addition to holding workshops and summer camps at their studio space, they parade their comedic and aerial talents at special events, such as birthday parties and protest rallies against gravity. In keeping with Paul's vision of circus outreach—a goal that has earned the circus considerable press coverage—they travel to hospitals and incorporate residents into the act through the Mojo Medicine program. Paul also works with struggling youth from high schools and detention centers, striving to impart the sense of accomplishment and inspiration that stems from owning the spotlight.
The Cincinnati Museum Center invites Egyptophiles to "Girls Night Out with Cleopatra," an enchanting evening learning about the legendary queen and enjoying indulgent spa care. Visiting the United States for the first time, Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt enlighten visitors with nearly 150 authentic artifacts unearthed in the sands of Egypt and watery depths around ancient Alexandria. Museum-goers wander beneath colossal statues inspired by the discovery of Cleopatra's lost palace to examine the collection of items left undiscovered for nearly 2,000 years including coins, religious tokens, and unfinished papyrus-crossword puzzles.
The firefighters of Engine Company #45 Firehouse extinguished their last blaze in 1962 after 56 years of fearless public service. Although the team dissipated, the elegant, 1906 firehouse—with Renaissance Revival details and three doors wide enough to accommodate horse-drawn fire engines—remained, languishing as a city storehouse until 1980, when the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati moved in. The building was recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and filled with special exhibits. It was also filled with antique firefighting gear that is in excellent condition in spite of years of smoke inhalation.
The collection reveals early 19th-century firefighting tactics with an alarm drum that once warned of fire from the roof of a carpenter shop and was later used to provide rhythm during disco infernos. In the Safe House exhibit, families diagram their homes and create personalized emergency plans while learning tips about fire prevention.
Initially designed as a temporary tour and fundraiser for student travel, American Legacy Tours began humbly as the Newport Gangster Tour in 2008. When met with overwhelming success, the friends who had embarked on what they thought was a temporary project decided to take root and expand, creating American Legacy Tours in 2010.
Their first order of business as an official company was to introduce the Queen City Underground Tour, an exploration of the city's underground tunnels and history as a rabbit village. Today, a cadre of educated guides leads 10 different area walking tours, including Civil War in Cincinnati and Newport is Haunted, one of several ghost-themed tours held around Halloween. There are also art-focused excursions, such as the Rookwood Pottery Factory tour.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center narrates the story of slavery through the past and into the present with vivid photo- and artifact-filled exhibits. Learn about the houses, tunnels, and basements traversed by the more than an estimated 100,000 enslaved people who sought freedom on the Underground Railroad, before settling in for a 25-minute, experiential film detailing the courageous path of one woman’s flight to freedom. Recently opened in 2010, the 4,000 square foot Invisible: Slavery Today exhibit examines contemporary forms of enslavement, guiding guests through an informative and elucidating sensory experience. Concluding the tour, visitors can make a personal commitment to the 21st Century Abolitionists. Museum guests can also delve into their own family history in the genealogical archives where personalized assistance from a history buff volunteer will help steer your search through your family tree’s foliage.
The American Sign Museum dazzles peepers with its staggering collection of nearly 3,000 signs and sign-related objects. Admission for two (a $20 value; children under 12 are free) grants curious excursionists, postmodern art-lovers, and knowledge-thirsty bounty hunters a personally guided tour through a century’s worth of clearly labeled exhibits, including spinning Sputnik-like signs, opulent gilded specimens, and the samples used by salespeople. Witness scientific signage with a “changeable” neon sign that runs on radio waves, or surf through a sense-sating sea of sign-making tools, photographs, models, and artwork. Founder Tod Swormstedt leads most tours, doling out generous portions of knowledge on various signs’ histories and contributions to the American landscape.