While recently traveling through the state of Kansas, my wife and I came across a sign off of Rte 24 pointing left and saying “6 Blocks to the OZ Museum.” (1) My wife is a big fan of the films and the story and so I figured we would take a look. The OZ Museum is in the middle of Kansas and has that going for it. There are also a purported “…2000 artifacts relating to L. Frank Baum’s books, the Wizard of Oz movie, board games, and silent films.” While that number did seem about right, all truth, like the Great Wizard himself, is relative when you pull back the curtain.
First Impressions: You walk into the OZ Museum and you’re smack in the middle of a rather heady gift shop. There is all manner of stuff there for you to buy; t-shirts, posters, pencils, mugs, magnets, figurines, water bottles, stickers, board games, and so many other things. Of course then there is a closed door with a sign pointing to “MUSEUM.” After pawing around at the items in the gift shop, I motioned for my wife to head on inside and see what the museum is all about.
Fee: Of course before I opened the door I was stopped. “Do you want to go into the museum,” one of the workers there asked me. When I indicated that I did she told me that would be $7.00 each. They offered discounted rates for senior citizens, students with ID, military veterans, and AAA members of which we are the last. So we got in for $6.00 each.
Collection: There were some cool items inside the OZ Museum. They had a signed contract from 1899 by L. Frank Baum for the book Wizard of Oz, so that was pretty cool. They also had a lot of mannequins, displays, paraphernalia, tidbits about the film and the actors, board games, books, an audio tour, and a screening room at the end of the museum with a few chairs and what must be a continuous loop of the film Wizard of Oz.
Critique: The one thing that irked me about a lot of the displays was that many of them had displays with Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Ruby Slippers, and the Wicked Witch. Pretty cool. But there was a little disclaimer on many of these items which said something to the effect of “this was a dress like the dress Dorothy wore during filming of the Wizard of Oz. It is not an exact replica.” So even though they are showing it as though it were real or an extra pair of Ruby Slippers or whatever, many of the items are not truly authentic.
But that’s the way for business in demand: If you build it, they will come. The wife and I walked out getting a few items and having paid for the museum entry fee so I guess they’re successful enough.
I posted some pictures on Facebook and so many of my female friends said things like “I can’t believe there is such a place! I’m so excited!”
Almost as though we’d found Oz itself!
The OZ Museum, 511 Lincoln St Wamego, KS 66547. 785-458-8686.