Circle of Water: Puppetry As An Agent of Change

June 29, 2024 – July 2026

In 1983, a troupe of performers traveled down the Mississippi River from Brainerd, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana in honor of water. A multi-faceted project spanning six months, the Circle of Water Circus honored the Mississippi River,  fostered community, and raised awareness of the ecological distress of the river through the ancient tradition of puppetry. Produced by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT), the main attraction was a performance featuring 150 puppets and original music that explored the devastation of colonialism throughout the history of the region with an optimistic look towards the future.

Forty years later, Hennepin History Museum pays tribute to this unique example of artistic activism in Circle of Water: Puppetry As An Agent of Change. This exhibit showcases a wide array of puppets alongside footage and music of the original show while presenting the experiences and perspectives of the performers.

The exhibit was developed in collaboration with Sandy Spieler, the Circle of Water Circus Director and former HOBT Artistic Director, and Laura Wilhelm, former HOBT Board Chair.


Image credit: Artwork by Sandy Spieler.