Monday, November 07, 2011


And now an important message from me...I just want to clarify a few points about the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center. It is clear that some people do not know all the facts and backstory of how I came to be the chief cook, bottlewasher and keeper of the props, wardrobe, stories and memories of clowns past, present & future here at the ICHOF. The quick version is I was asked to help this organization at a time when it was about to, in no easy words, "go-away". Financial troubles, Board problems and this amazing collection of artifacts tucked away in storage units not being seen by anyone. With the help of dedicated friends, clowns, performers and the community of Baraboo, WI, the ICHOF became a reality, and once again a proud monument to the lives and careers of clowns, world-wide.

Since our opening on May 21, 2010, we have cleared up the back taxes, become current with all our bills, created a complete inventory of every artifact in our collection, re-structured our board to include a mix of local merchants and business members who share our mission and passion and believe in the good that a museum celebrating clowning can do. And the clowns themselves. Every time there has been a need, the professional clown community has stepped up. EVERY time. Whether it's trust in me, or belief in the mission to preserve our shared history or just something as simple as wanting to help and to be able to say to themselves that they did do something to help an art form that has given so much to our lives.

With an institution that dates back to 1986, there is going to be history attached. Most of it good, but some not so much. All we can do in the present is to learn from the past and not repeat those mistakes. Many great clowns helped start this idea of a depository of physical items relating to clowns, but really what makes these "items" important are the stories that bring them to life and honor the performers who dedicated their lives to this thing we call clowning. From a museum business stand point these items are what give our collection "value". We have to insure them. We have to care for them them. We have to be responsible caretakers for these items so that future generations can see and learn from these artifacts of those who came before us.

That being said, it needs to be stated very clearly that unless a written document on ICHOF stationary,dated & signed by both parties is present indicating that a item is on "loan" to the ICHOF, it is the current Board of Directors and Executive Director position that any and all items currently on display or in the collection of the ICHOF are the sole and complete property of the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center, a 501 (c) 3 organization. Wisconsin law allows for a seven (7) year period in which an item in the care of the institution (ICHOF) has not been reviewed by said owner, it is implied that ownership of said item becomes the property of the institution caring for its physical being and financial worth. In laymans terms, for example, if an item was loaned/donated back in 1989, and no contact about that item has been made since the date, and no paperwork can be produced to verify any agreements between the two parties, the item is the sole property of the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center.

We take the business of operating a not for profit museum very seriously. From the time I have taken over as Board President,(October 2009) I have waived all salary compensation and our board worked diligently to correct our business model and return the organization to financial solvency. They have also agreed to not receive any items on loan or consignment. Any exceptions are duly noted in our files and are done with Board approval. To date there is only one exception on file.

As we move forward and continue to grow and add to our collection, I would hope this policy will not deter anyone from making a contribution of historic clown related artifacts. More importantly, one should know that any item given to us will be treated with respect, displayed with the knowledge of where this artifacts falls in the vast history of clowning, and be seen by generations of people who might just walk away having learned something about clowns that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

So ends my story for today. I cannot begin to thank everyone who has helped us on our mission to see the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center become a living, ever changing place to honor clowning. I hope that if it your desire to help in any way, ideas, suggestions, volunteer, financial contributions, you will do so, and know your efforts are appreciated and welcomed by a very grateful Clown Hall of Fame.

In Laughter-

Greg DeSanto