The J. Paul Getty Museum

[Hubert's Freak Museum and Flea Circus, Forty-second Street, New York]

Object Details


[Hubert's Freak Museum and Flea Circus, Forty-second Street, New York]


Lisette Model (American, born Austria, 1901 - 1983)




New York, New York, United States (Place Created)


about 1945


Gelatin silver print

Object Number:



34.3 × 26.8 cm (13 1/2 × 10 9/16 in.)


© Estate of Lisette Model, courtesy Baudoin Lebon/Keitelman

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Object Description

Lisette Model photographed these two exuberant burlesque performers at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus, on 42nd Street in New York. She first went there at the encouragement of one of the editors at Harper's Bazaar magazine, where she worked as a photographer. Located in the basement of a building in the heart of Manhattan’s theater district, Hubert’s presented acts such as the bearded lady named Lady Olga and the fully tattooed Jack Dracula. Professor Roy Heckler’s flea circus added to the curiosities. An eclectic audience came in search of the bizarre. Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, Tom Wolfe, and Andy Kaufmann all frequented the museum.

Always drawn to unconventional subjects, Model made several views of Hubert’s performances, often emphasizing their eccentricities (see also 84.XP.124.19). Model was not the only photographer to visit the museum; early in her career, in the late 1950s, Diane Arbus began shooting there as well. Regarding the acts at Hubert’s she once wrote “We had our awe and our shame in one gulp.”

Hubert’s closed in 1965. Appropriately, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, another spectacle, now occupies the very same spot.

Carolyn Peter, J. Paul Getty Museum, Department of Photographs, 2020

- 1984

Volker Kahmen & Georg Heusch, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Lisette Model: Daring to See (October 5, 1990 to October 20, 1991)
  • National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), October 5, 1990 to January 6, 1991
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), August 6 to October 20, 1991
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
Dance in Photography (February 2 to March 28, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 2 to March 28, 1999