WHAT IS IT? As Middle-class Entertainment
Barnum's promotional material for What Is It? claimed that "it is the opinion of most scientific men that he is the connecting link between the wild native African, and the orang outang." By highlighting the "scientific" as well as the "pleasing, interesting and amusing" nature of the human exhibit, Barnum sought to attract middle-class families looking for education and entertainment to the American Museum. This print by the lithography firm of Currier and Ives stresses the respectability of the exhibit even as it highlights the "otherness" of the "man monkey."
Source: New-York Historical Society