The OZ Museum, Part One

Note:  My original plan was to save these Oz Museum posts for May, in honor of L. Frank Baum's birthday.  Let it be known that I am not a patient person, and that despite the fact I should be concentrating on the last week of Women's History Month and Easter, I feel the need to post about this trip as soon as I possibly can!  Too much awesome to wait!

Last week was spring break, and Mr. B and I decided we needed a little getaway trip.  Just a day trip through small town Kansas, that would suffice.  We planned scenic routes to and from little Wamego, KS, home of the OZ Museum.  Of course, Kansans are teased with Wizard of Oz references all the time.  There's no escaping it. Other than Kansas being the setting for Dorothy's farm, though, my home state has little historical claim on L. Frank Baum.  Baum was from New York, and lived in Aberdeen, Dakota Territory, before settling in Chicago, and later, Hollywood, CA.  Kansas was just a dreary stop on a miserable tour of a play Baum wrote and produced.  But Kansas will forever be associated with Dorothy Gale, and while the Oz references can be tiresome, I don't really mind.  I love Oz, both the Baum books and the 1939 MGM movie.

The OZ Museum in Wamego opened in 2004.  I know I only first heard about it a few years ago.  Growing up, I was aware that there was a little house in Liberal, KS (far southwest corner of the state) called Dorothy's House, which was opened in 1981.  I still want to visit it someday.  I wasn't quite ready for the wonders of this Museum, however.

The OZ Museum is located at 511 Lincoln Ave, in the heart of Wamego's charming downtown.

The Museum consists of over 2,000 OZ-related artifacts, on permanent loan from a serious collector.  There are items related to the original books, L. Frank Baum himself, the early Broadway musical, the silent films, the 1939 MGM classic film, household kitsch, international versions of the book, other OZ-related TV/film/stage works, a lovely gift shop...  To top it off, the woman at the counter was super-friendly, and they actually tell you as you're about to enter, "Take all the pictures you want!"  And I did.

Let's look at some books, shall we?

First editions of some of the L. Frank Baum books.  (I apologize for the picture quality.
This was the first picture I took.  The first book was in a shadow box to the right,
but my picture of it didn't turn out at all.)

OZ books by Ruth Plumly Thompson, who took over the series after Baum's death in 1919.  

Other Oz-related books, including Junior editions, a picture book version, and Dorothy of Oz
by L. Frank Baum's great-grandson Roger.

Early Oz memorabilia, including a beautiful board game.

All about Baum, including his play The Maid of Arran.

More about Baum: some of his non-OZ books, items he would have sold at Baum's Bazaar
in Aberdeen, SD, and china he would have sold as a traveling china salesman for Pitkin & Brooks
when he lived in Chicago.

One of my favorite artifacts!  Baum sometimes made toys for children,
based on his books.  This is a toy version of The Woozy, first depicted in one of my
favorite Oz books, The Patchwork Girl of Oz.  He made it for neighbor children only a
year before he died.

More Baum books.

Photos and artifacts related to the 1902 musical version of The Wizard of Oz, and a lobby card
for the 1925 film version starring Larry Semon as the Scarecrow and Oliver Hardy
as the Tin Man.

My Oz buddy.  I read all of the Baum Oz books to her, starting a few months shy of
her third birthday and finishing when she was four.  Does she remember them?
No.  For example, she loved The Woozy.  He was a favorite character when she was 3.
When she saw the toy Woozy, she asked, "What?  Who?"

Color plates from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) by W.W. Denslow.

Color plates from subsequent Oz books by John R. Neill, "Imperial Illustrator of Oz."

A case dedicated to international editions of the book, and some book-related
memorabilia, including these nesting dolls and toy tea set.
(My picture of the Oz Hello Kitty set, similar to this, was completely out-of-focus!
My oldest daughter was so mad!)

The OZ Museum, Part Two; The OZ Museum, Part Three

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  1. AAAH. SO COOL. I need to visit this place - it's going on my literary places bucket list!

    1. I loved it. I couldn't believe the amount of stuff, and really, it's just one man's collection. I want to go back for Oztoberfest!

  2. What a fantastically fabulous day trip!!! Like Leanne, it is going on my "MUST see someday" list. And I am totally drooling over that Oz board game. I NEED one. Santa? Are you taking notes?

    1. There is a website that specializes in Oz collectibles and antiques, but it's priced for high-end collectors. I like to look at the stuff and drool, but I certainly don't have the dough.

      The Oz Museum, on the other hand, was a very affordable, fun way to spend an hour or two. :)

  3. This is spectacular I really would love to go there! (P.S. have you ever seen wicked the play? Its fantastic)

    1. Sadly, I have not. It came through on tour a few years ago, but we were in the depths of a financial crisis. (My husband was furloughed from his job.) I would have loved to have seen it! I have read the Wicked books, with the exception of the last one.


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