Holyoke’s Frog Circus in Holyoke, Massachusetts

The greeter at Wistariahurst Museum points beyond a room of charming oddities including a penny-farthing bicycle and a lone carousel horse. “And around the corner there you’ll find… a surprise!” Tucked away in the back of the museum’s visitor center is a surprise indeed—Dead frogs trapezing, playing band instruments, riding turtles, and performing wild circus stunts. 

The Frog Circus diorama was created in 1927 by naturalist Burlingham Schurr for a museum that was opening at the local public library. 

This taxidermy wonder is now on display at Wistariahurst, the historic home of 19th-century silk mogul William Skinner and his descendants. The Frog Circus has no direct connection to Wistariahurst besides being an intriguing piece of local Holyoke history. 

According to museum staff, there is a second Burlingham Schurr dead frog diorama currently in storage and depicts a bank scene. The museum is hoping for a local bank to sponsor the purchase of a proper display case so it can be put out for all to enjoy. 

The museum gift shop offers Frog Circus tote bags, notepads, and postcards.

Know Before You Go

The Frog Circus is located in the Wistariahurst Carriage House visitor center and gift shop, which is free to the public. Open times vary, but it is typically open during Wistariahurst guided tour hours and other events. The surrounding grounds and gardens are also free to roam. 

The full Wistariahurst mansion sits beside the Carriage House and has both guided and self-guided tours. The tour schedule is available on the museum’s website. Street parking is free all around the mansion grounds.

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