June 27, 2014
Visiting Oz…on This Side of the Rainbow
The Wonderful World of Oz! # 2 -- Visiting Oz…on This Side of the Rainbow As I guess was pretty well-evidenced by last week's initial entry, the ensuing months of these Ozzy blog-ramblings will encompass historical information, shared passion and research, and personal reminiscences -- all of which will be presented in as entertaining and non-dry a fashion as I can manage!
I would, however, like to immediately emphasize a specific (if obvious) fact in this second go-round: Any commentary I summon up is coming to you through the courtesy of Wamego's Oz Museum, and I think it's well worth giving them a very well-deserved acknowledgement here at the onset.
There has been world-wide Oz enthusiasm and fascination for many decades, dating back to the first book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900; the touring (and sometime-Broadway) musical of 1902-1909; the international translations of a number of the stories, beginning in France in 1932; the ever-growing popularity and familiarity of the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Judy Garland movie musical; and all the prior and subsequent commercial products and permutations. Oddly enough, though -- and apart from some happily well-intentioned at-home (or almost at-home) efforts -- it's only in recent decades that the concept of an Oz museum has taken hold.
Near Syracuse, the village of Chittenango, NY (birthplace of L. Frank Baum, the "Royal Historian of Oz”) has just launched "All Things Oz," the latest incarnation of their gift shop and beautiful, burgeoning educational display, in a sparkling new setting. Preeminent Oz collector Willard Carroll has announced plans for an eventual National Oz Museum, showcasing items from among the 100,000 items he and partner Tom Wilhite maintain in Camden, Maine. Garry Parrett took over a village hall and shows his personal collection by appointment in Wausaukee, Wisconsin; he, in fact, expands upon a fan-based tradition, following scores of others who have (if only temporarily in their cases) displayed their Ozzy holdings at local libraries or similar venues.
But Wamego has its own visually and historically dazzling Oz Museum, solidly established and opened in 2003. While it serves as the centerpiece of the now-annual Oztoberfest -- slated this year for Friday and Saturday, September 26 and 27, 2014 – its remarkable archive is open year-round.
At any given moment, the museum has several thousand items on view, tracing the hoztory (!) of the Oz books, artwork, toys, dolls, games, commercial products, stage shows, cartoons, and motion picture incarnations (the latter dating from 1908 to 2014). To wander its winding corridors, pose with life-size three-dimensional duplicates of the principal characters, enjoy the documentaries or programs on various monitors, and celebrate all that has been wrought across one hundred and fourteen years is to enjoy an hour (or two or three) in Emerald City heaven.
Whether you join many of us during Oztoberfest or make your own, figurative yellow-brick-trek before or after those September dates, the Wamego Oz Museum is well worth the journey. Among its many fascinations comes in the fact that virtually all of its tens of thousands of ever-changing items-on- exhibition come from the collection of one man and his family.
And we'll honor him -- and their generosity -- in a subsequent blog!
Meanwhile, here's to seeing you in Wamego :)
Article by John Fricke