Every year from March to November, the Swiss National Circus Knie tours 30 different venues throughout the country. The way the circus moves from site to site is a master class in efficient, rapid logistics: 1400 tonnes of infrastructure, including ticket office and equipment trailers and tractors, are loaded onto two freight trains each up to 450 metres in length. Around 100 workers are needed to install the entire infrastructure, which occupies some 30,000 square metres.
The Swiss National Circus Knie is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2019. The Swiss Museum of Transport is taking part in the anniversary activities "100 years of the Swiss National Circus" with its "Knie on the road" exhibition. The Rail Transport Hall is displaying Margrit Lippuner-Knie's original circus trailer no. 29. It can be seen on a flat railway wagon. This trailer served as an apartment for circus director Friedrich Knie and his wife Margrit. Their sons Fredy sr. and Rolf sr., born in 1920 and 1921 respectively, grew up in there. The lounge in the middle, complete with pull-out table for eight, is connected to the master bedroom in the front and the children's area in the back. Following the death of her husband in 1941, Margrit Knie-Lippuner remained in the trailer until late into old age and received prominent visitors such as Audrey Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin, General Henri Guisan and Carl Zuckmayer there. Margrit Lippuner-Knie was the grandmother of Fredy Knie jr. and Rolf Knie.
Fascinating circus complex
The "Knie on the road" display is complemented by a large (1:25 scale), fascinating and accurately detailed model of the circus complex complete with big top, zoo and stabling. The model was built by model builder Alain Gross from Geneva; it took him 3000 hours! Also on display are Knie posters by the Lucerne artist Hans Erni. The Hans Erni Museum contains original sketches of the poster designs.