Revealing the Charm of Oddities was a lecture presented by Madeline Hoak at the Sigal Museum in Easton, PA on June 17, 2017. 

Madeline Hoak is a breath of fresh air! She developed a lecture in conjunction with a Cabinet of Curiosities exhibition at the Sigal Museum, expertly weaving in objects and stories from our collection with P.T. Barnum’s American Museum, circus history, and our culture’s fascination with the strange and inexplicable. She is a dynamic speaker with a gift for sleuthing out compelling tales and spinning them into gold for the audience. Some of our visitors weren’t sure what to expect when they first sat down for her talk, but all sat spellbound until the end.
— Carey Birgel, Executive Director, Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society, Sigal Museum

Inspired by the Sigal Museum's exhibition The Cabinet of Curiosities, circus historian Madeline Hoak takes us back to the days of P.T. Barnum and explores our fascination with the strange and inexplicable. One of the first great American Museum of wonders, oddities, and natural history was a landmark of popular culture and a forerunner of modern museums.

Learn about Barnum's most famous "humbugs" and media spins, as well as classic characters and events from American circus history. Make connections between the curious objects from our collection vault and Barnum's sensational attractions. What makes us excited to see a piece of history? What makes the ordinary exceptional? If the story is good, does it matter if it's true?