Thursday, February 11, 2016

Yellow Brick Road in Kansas

Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas
Isaac B. Werner may have died before L. Frank Baum began publishing his Oz books, but both men were impacted by the Progressive Movement, and certainly Kansas is an important part of both men's stories.  (See "Isaac and the Wizard of Oz," in the blog archives at 12-15-2011.)

Our interest in all things Ozian motivated us to stop in Wamego to see the Oz Museum located there.  It was a great decision.


We were greeted warmly and encouraged to take photographs as we toured the museum.  While we may be kids at heart, I can only imagine how excited children must be to see the full-sized main characters in dioramas.  

We learned that most of the objects in the museum were accumulated by a collector who now lives in New York City.  He collected for many years and has acquired enough objects that the collections on display can be changed regularly.  Visitors are encouraged to return so they can see the new items.

Oz monkey from the movie
Since I am a stickler for accuracy according to the book, rather than the movie, I immediately mentioned Dorothy's "silver" slippers vs. the ruby slippers used in the movie.  Of course I like the alliterative sound of silver slippers, although I understand that the ruby slippers were more beautiful in the technicolor movie.  We were told that the collector acquired Baum's books and advertising materials and other objects that incorporate the silver slippers, but he also collected movie-related objects with the ruby slippers.

One of my favorite objects was this small flying monkey from the movie.  Many monkeys were created and used in the film for the flying monkeys scenes.  Most disappeared after the filming, so this surviving model is fairly rare.

One of many display cases
Of course, the Baum books and the movie have generated many objects--puzzles, figures, sheet music, games to name a few.  There are many cases in the museum filled with interesting objects.

Letter written by Margaret Hamilton
Another object that I enjoyed was a hand-written letter from Margaret Hamilton, the actress that played the wicked witch.  The type-written transcription is displayed in the foreground, but the hand-written letter is also displayed behind it.  I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of the actress to reply by hand with such a long letter to a fan.

Contract signed by Baum

My husband spotted a 3-page typed contract signed by H. Frank Baum.  Dating from the era of hand-typed documents, before copy machines and computers, the contract with its less than even margin, visible correction, and signatures that appear to have been written with each signers' own fountain pen is quite a historic document.

Oz Quilt
Another unique object was the quilt designed by a lady in Kansas City and given to the museum.  

Tin Man

When we lived in different regions of the country and people we met learned that we were raised in Kansas, they nearly always mentioned The Wizard of Oz.  While more people have seen the movie rather than having read the books, everyone seems to know about Oz.  Dorothy may be our best ambassador for the state of Kansas.  

I can't imagine anyone who would not enjoy going out of their way to stop in Wamego for a stroll through the land of Oz at the museum!

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