Masterson and Barnum enter the IAAPA Hall of Fame as the 87th and 88th inductees. The IAAPA Hall of Fame was established in 1990 to honor legends and pioneers for their significant and lasting contributions to the growth and development of the attractions industry, an industry that depends on the imaginations, talents, and vision of its dream builders.
Since that time, dozens of industry pioneers have been honored, including: Walt Disney (Walt Disney Company); Milton Hershey (Hersheypark); Bob Rogers (BRC Imagination Arts); Will Koch (Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari); Bo Kinntorph (Liseberg); Franz Mack (Mack Rides/Europa-Park); George Millay (Wet ‘n Wild); Jay Stein (Universal Studios Florida); Geoffrey Thompson (Blackpool Pleasure Beach); and Antonio Zamperla (Zamperla).
The IAAPA Hall of Fame inductees are not chosen by virtue of their personal success alone, but rather for significant contributions to the entire industry, their community, and the world.
Bob Masterson is a prime example of how far a vision can take you. After returning to San Francisco in 1973 from United States military service in Vietnam, Masterson was a manager at a roadside oddity museum called Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Thirty-six years later, Masterson retired as the president of Ripley Entertainment.
In Masterson’s time with Ripley Entertainment, 25 years of which he spent as president, the business grew from 11 locations to a diverse and global small attraction chain with more than 73 museum attractions, aquariums, theatres, and more in 13 countries.
In addition to his contributions to Ripley Entertainment, Masterson has remained a loyal ambassador for the attractions industry. He has served on several IAAPA committees, the IAAPA board of directors, and was the association’s chairman of the board for 2008.
Currently, Masterson is the chairman of Amusement Management Partners LLC.
PT Barnum’s name and legacy will forever be associated with the circus and mobile attractions industry as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (better known as The Greatest Show On Earth) that has toured the United States for more than 142 years and remains a popular family experience for children of all ages. However; his contributions to the attractions and museum industry and the art of selling tickets, though less celebrated, perhaps surpass the importance of his achievements under the big top.
Barnum pioneered The American Museum, which operated from 1841 to 1865 in New York City. He used his legendary promotional skills to draw attention to his newly created attraction of the strange, the educational, the whimsical, and the mysterious.
Offering exhibits such as the Fiji Mermaid, exotic snakes and animals, and General Tom Thumb – the 25-inch dwarf who Barnum would turn into a worldwide celebrity – Barnum built the reputation of the museum as a must-see attraction of New York City. For 23 years, it was recognized as the city’s most popular attraction.
Though Barnum would go on to make an even larger name for himself through the mobile attractions industry, his marketing ability and inclusion of attention-grabbing acts propelled him and the museum industry to new heights, laying the groundwork for many of today’s most popular attractions.
Kathy Maher, Executive Director/Curator for the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut, accepted the award on behalf of PT Barnum’s family.
IAAPA is the premier trade association for the attractions industry worldwide. Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities and attractions, and is dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of the attractions industry. The association’s global headquarters is in Alexandria, Virginia, United States and it maintains regional offices in Brussels, Mexico City, and Hong Kong.