We’re Off to See the Wizard

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We stopped in Wamego Kansas at the Wizard of Oz Museum which opened in 2004 as a showcase for all things Oz. The brochure boasts a collection of 2000 items on display, commemorating all manner of Oz from books to film to the Broadway stage. Clearly with so much memorabilia on display I couldn’t possibly show it all, but I’ll cover some of the highlights and my favorites.

In the lobby of the museum you’re greeted by an 8 foot tall Tin Man. I’ve left the doorway in the photo just to demonstrate the enormous size of the statue. Such fun!

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As you walk through the museum many of the displays are grouped by character. As Oz characters go, I admit to being partial to Glinda, having played her in a sixth grade production of The Wizard of Oz.

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So, in honor of my sixth grade self, here is one of the Glinda displays:

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Despite my Glinda love, I’ll be honest, some of my favorite items were memorabilia for the Scarecrow. Here are just a few of the pieces that caught my eye.

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Of course, there were tributes to many of the other characters. Here are some other groups of memorabilia:

Dorothy

Of course, no Oz museum could be complete without lots of Dorothy items, as well as recognition for the incomparable Judy Garland. Here is just a small sampling.

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Tin Man & the Lion

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The Munchkins

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An Unexpected Tribute

This next display was certainly among the more unexpected bits of memorabilia in the museum. I certainly wasn’t expecting a 9/11 themed display when we walked in.

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According to the display, Oz collector Johnpaul Cafiero had visited the Warner Brothers store at the World Trade Center in New York often, as he had family in the area. He struck up a friendship with the store’s manager and during a visit at the end of August 2001 the manager asked if he wanted some Oz themed stuffed dolls that the store was not going to display (as the store was slated to close later that year). He did, and the manager agreed to ship them out to him within the next couple of weeks. 14 days later the unthinkable happened.

His thoughts after the tragedy of 9/11:

On September 12, I called the Warner Brothers Store in Times Square inquiring on the staff and manager of the WTC store. They all managed to get out before the towers collapsed. To tell you the truth, I did wonder about the plush dolls. Did they ever get shipped? Well, the answer came the next day on Thursday, September 13, 2001. I received a number of large boxes from the WTC Warner Brothers Store. It was a strange feeling. They had survived a terrible disaster. This box and the five plush character figures are a testimony to the enduring legacy of OZ and the American Spirit.

Beyond the Book

Beyond the original book and timeless film, the museum features other iterations of Oz. There were displays for musical adaptations Wicked (a personal favorite) and The Wiz; and TV mini-series Tin Man; a fantastic old Rolling Stone cover featuring the cast of Seinfeld; Wizard of Oz on Ice; and more. And on the day of our visit a display for “Oz the Great and Powerful” was in development to commemorate the most recent film starring James Franco and Michelle Williams.

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Overall it was a fun visit. A little on the cheesy side, but it was a cute stop and would thrill any Oz fan.

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From August 12 – October 15, 2014 my husband and I traveled the northern United States in my Honda Civic. Cross Country Civic was started (and will eventually be completed) to document our cross country adventure. All comments and questions welcome.

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Riverside’s Most Famous Resident

Our final stop in Iowa was in the city of Riverside. Riverside is famous for exactly one thing, and the one thing it’s famous for hasn’t even happened yet. For the non-initiated, non-geeks of the World, Riverside is famous for being the future birthplace of James Tiberius Kirk, the Captain himself.

We visited this little city (in the pouring rain, I might add) in order to commemorate this sacred spot. Riverside began celebrating Kirk’s birth back in 1984 after the City Council petitioned Gene Roddenbury for permission to erect a monument declaring Riverside as the Captain’s birthplace. With Roddenbury’s full blessing, this tribute to its future resident was installed:

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Hidden behind a small barbershop, the plaque could easily go unnoticed by those not looking. Though the mini U.S.S. Enterprise in the parking lot of the The Voyage Home Museum down the street is a little trickier to miss. Unfortunately, the museum was closed during our visit so we were unable to drop by.

But the plaque and museum aren’t the full story (or history) here in Riverside. The Trek connection apparently began with a plaque under a pool table in the nearby Murphy’s Bar and Grill commemorating Kirk’s conception – a clever marketing ploy the bar had thought up. The town council wasn’t a fan of the plaque though (hence, the more official and family friendly “birthplace” celebration), and it can no longer be found in the bar.

However, the bar does still embrace it’s Trek “connection.” We stopped in for dinner and found a giant banner proclaiming it the Future Home of the Shipyard Bar. So, while the plaque down the road embraces Prime Kirk, the bar is now embracing the new Trek World. Alternate Kirk, of course, is born in outer space. I imagine that plaque is going to be much more difficult to visit.

How many of you Trekkies out there have made the “trek” to Iowa?