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The James Dean Museum in Fairmount, IN is an unforgettable small-town treasure

Tucked away in the little town of Fairmount, IN is the James Dean Museum, a hidden gem filled with amazing items from the late star's life...

 

Some people seem to transcend to another level of stardom… A level of fame that makes them iconic across generations, even long after they’ve passed. The list is fairly short and includes the likes of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and, of course, James Dean, and if you’re a Dean fan, a pilgrimage to the James Dean Museum in Fairmount, Indiana is a must-do.


While one might imagine the largest stash of James Dean memorabilia would be in some Hollywood museum, it’s actually in the little east central Indiana town of Fairmount. Why? James Dean spent much of his childhood in the Fairmount area, being raised by his aunt and uncle, the Winslows, on their family farm. When he died tragically in 1955, he was also buried in Fairmount.


Thankfully, the Winslow family was kind enough to loan a substantial number of his personal belongings to the museum including some of his motorcycles like his 1955 Triumph. (as the story goes, Mr. Warner never approved of Jimmy’s motorcycle riding)


james dean museum motorcycle 1

james dean museum motorcycle tank

The motorcycles may be impressive, but for us, the real gems of the museum are the smaller pieces like a rock lasso from the movie Giant or the knives used in Rebel Without a Cause.



In addition to iconic movie props and scripts, the museum also boasts an impressive collection of artifacts from his personal life ranging from his phone book to a telephone he bought his aunt and uncle on his last visit home.



While the James Dean Museum doesn’t take a long time to tour, every square inch of it is packed with items you just can’t believe you’re seeing in person. Whether you loved his movies or just know him for being the coolest of cool, this museum is a must-see if you’re traveling through east central Indiana.


Aside from the treasure trove of James Dean artifacts, the museum also pays homage to the town’s history and another of its well-known former citizens, Garfield creator Jim Davis. And, as with any good museum, there’s a stellar gift shop. We personally think the “Carter Motors” hats and shirts are pretty cool since it’s where he bought his first motorcycle.


When to visit the James Dean Museum:

In our humble opinion, there are two amazing times to visit the James Dean Museum.


The first is the last weekend of September for the James Dean Festival, a 3 day celebration of all things James Dean. The festival features a James Dean look-a-like contest, a parade, and a large car show which typically also features the car Jimmy drove to prom and even a family tractor he rode on.



The second would be on one of Two Lane America’s Midwest Motorhead Madness tours! These 6-day tours get you to all the best car museums in Indiana and Michigan. Stops include the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Henry Ford, the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum, the Gilmore, the Studebaker Museum, and more! Learn more about the tours here.



 

Museum Info:

203 E Washington Street

PO Box 92

Fairmount, IN 46928

 

Some additional James Dean sights in Fairmount:


James Dean Gallery

425 N Main St, Fairmount, IN 46928

For more James Dean memorabilia, we recommend stopping by the James Dean Gallery just up the road from the James Dean Museum.


james dean museum fairmount james dean gallery

James Dean Memorial Park

200 N Main St, Fairmount, IN 46928

Here you’ll find the twin to a bust created by sculptor Kenneth Kendall. The original stands on a corner in Griffith Park, the site of his famed knife-fight in Rebel Without a Cause.


james dean museum fairmount james dean memorial park

Park Cemetery

7843 S 150 E, Fairmount, IN 46928

The final resting place of James Dean.


Note: super-fans often also try to drive by the Winslow farm, but we ask you respect their privacy.

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