Getting a little bored on that Kansas stretch of I-70? Take a short detour to see the Wizard, Dorothy, and the rest of the classic gang at the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas…
You know we like to take the backroads, but sometimes time just dictates your schedule, and that’s why we found ourselves on I-70 for what felt like an eternity on our way to Denver, CO. It’s just so many miles of nothing but truck stops and rest areas. It’s so straight. It’s just not right. We knew there was awesome stuff in Kansas waiting to be discovered if we’d just get off the highway.
Just when we couldn’t take it anymore, we clicked our ruby heels together and magically arrived just off the highway at the Oz Museum, a place for anything and everything related to the Wizard of Oz.
To be honest, it’s been at least 20 years since I’ve seen the famed Wizard of Oz movie. Quite frankly, the little flying monkeys scared the crap out of me, so it wasn’t my favorite movie. I walked into this museum out of sheer curiosity, but after walking out, I was a new fan and even found myself staying up to watch the movie on cable.
Why the change? When a museum has such a passion for something, it just rubs off. It’s what we love about all the random museums we’ve toured over the years… If the curators are passionate, it’s just contagious.
So first thing you’ll notice upon entering the museum lobby and store is the massive Tin Man, signed by Roger Baum, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum, author of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the children’s book that started the Oz phenomenon.
Inside the museum itself is a treasure trove of Oz memorabilia, random facts, and beautiful displays. How many artifacts, you ask? Over 2,000- ranging from the 1939 Judy Garland classic to earlier films and even later adaptations such as “The Wiz,” and “Wicked.”
We could try to describe it all, but it’s easier to borrow the museum’s description of their artifacts:
The hand jeweled ruby slippers, covered in over 3,500 Swarovski crystals, created by artist Jeffery Merrell to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the making of the movie.
A reproduction of the Haunted Forest sign that warns Dorothy and her companions to “turn back” in the now classic MGM film, The Wizard of Oz.
Doors and windows from a munchkin house, used on the set of the film, The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. Its release date was May of 2005 and starred Ashanti as Dorothy Gale.
W.W. Denslow’s 24 color illustrated pages from the 1st edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), along with exclusive OZ memoirs.
Various hand-painted character masks, even flying monkey miniatures used in the movie Wizard of Oz, and OZ toys such as a Woozy Doll made by L. Frank Baum.
TV, Broadway musical, and movie memorabilia, including original movie posters and rare autographs by original actors playing Auntie Em and Uncle Henry.
Rare OZ artifacts such as original MGM 1939 movie production notes, death certificate signed by original Munchkin Coroner, Ray Bolger’s (the original Scarecrow actor) passport, and gloves of Munchkin, Nita Krebs.
Yellow brick from Baum’s military grade school, props from the Broadway musical Wicked, and much more!
Seriously, did you read that? Death certificates from the original Munchkin Coroner… The Oz Museum has EVERYTHING you can imagine.
Of course, time was not on our side, and we had to rush through a little faster than we’d like, but we can vouch for the Oz Museum of Wamego, Kansas as being a perfect way to break up the inhumane monotony of I-70.
Admission will only set you back $8 (discounts for kids, military vets, etc. See their website to plan your trip)
Wamego, Kansas 66547
Toll Free: (866) 458-TOTO (8686)
Local: (785) 458-8686