Clyde Park Miniature Circus refurbishment underway at Pink Palace

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Pink Palace Museum is in Phase three of their master plan to reimagine the museum.

Parts of the museum will be closed during the multi-year renovation, but the museum will never fully be closed.

With this phase, they are focusing on the exhibits in the mansion.

One major focus is the beloved Clyde Parke Miniature Circus.

The circus has been at the museum since the 1970's and is one of the museum's largest and most popular artifacts.

Parke, who moved to Memphis in 1897, lost his job in the Great Depression and spent spare time on his pet project.

He started carving soap when he was a little kid, then graduated to wood.

"When he moved to wood. He decided he wanted to work on something really big. He had always loved circuses, and so he started carving a circus," shared Carline Mitchell Carrico the exhibits design coordinator.

Carrico has spent a lot of time researching the circus to make the new exhibit fun and exciting for visitors.

One of the things they are working on is completely fixing and improving the mechanics of the circus.

While the way the circus looks won't change much, the mechanics that make it function will be fully replaced.

"When we get it running, I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by how much of the circus really moves," explained Carrico.

Originally Parke wanted to take his circus to departments stores to show it off and make money from it.

However, because he made the circus so big, a lot of the department's stores couldn't display it.

One of the first times the public saw the circus was in 1935 at the Memphis Cotton Carnival.

"When you look at the circus it's very much a picture of the world that Clyde Parke knew during the Great Depression. If you really pay attention you can tell that the crowd is segregated, and it's very much a teaching moment for kids," expressed Carrico.

Carrico and The Pink Palace not only hope to teach about the Great Depression and circuses in general but also showcase the simple mechanics Parke used to make it function.

The plan is to have the circus up and running several times a day in 2018.