In Superman's home town, Metropolis, across the street from the statue of the Man of Steel, sprawls the Super Museum. It is stuffed with over 20,000 items relating to the 60+ year old Superman saga. The Super Museum is the life's work of Jim Hambrick, who also owns the overstuffed Superman souvenir and collectibles store you must pass through to reach the museum entrance.
Jim has been actively collecting since 1959, and now owns over 100,000 Superman items. He originally lived in California and owned a traveling Superman exhibit that would do the US county fair circuit. In 1985, he decided his collection belonged in Superman's hometown, Metropolis, Illinois. For a variety of reasons, Jim took eight years to complete the move (it took an entire year to pack), The museum opened on Superman Square in 1993.
The place is a dense assemblage of collectibles, movie props, superman products, and promotional materials. There are costumed mannequins, theater lobby cards, posters, and thousands of toys and plastic figures. It's organized around particular eras and portrayals of Superman, spanning TV, movies, and comics; and is changed frequently, to encourage repeat visits. The George Reeves Era display exhibits his original color costume. His costume for the black and white TV era, actually brown and gray, is also here.
George Reeves' original "flying pan" from 1951-53 is suspended from the ceiling — the torso-molded special effects device that allowed Superman to fly on TV. The pan was attached under his costume, then he was lifted by crane, and hurled by cityscape sets and landscapes. Flying pan technology was abandoned after a mishap where the cable broke, dropping the actor 16 feet onto the set floor. Later Supermen flew courtesy of a "Blue Screen" or computer effects... Jim explains the story behind Mr. Kryptonite. George Reeves actually made more money from doing personal appearances than from the TV show. As part of the act, he hired one of the early pro wrestlers, Gene LaBelle, to wear the Mr. Kryptonite suit. While Reeves was talking to the crowd, Mr. Kryptonite would appear, and hit him in the head with a balsa wood baseball bat.
There are many rare pieces from the Superman films, including the Kryptonian crystal that helped Christopher Reeve create the Fortress of Solitude. There are also sections devoted to the side players — Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White. The Super Museum appears to be doing well; Jim says he gets about 200 visitors a day. The previous museum and attraction attempted by the town of Metropolis — The Amazing World of Superman— failed, "and that had corporate sponsors and a half million in funding." Jim knows every angle of Superman museum promotion and management, and notes: "I've done more than anybody to bring people to this town and keep Metropolis on the map." Jim hopes he'll someday be able to display all 100,000 items, including the horrid original statue. "I have a 30,000 square foot space outside of town. As soon as the interstate goes 4-lane there, we'll see about moving...."
(Preceding story from RoadsideAmerica.com)
The museum has received many honors as well including being awarded "#1 Small Town Attraction In America". It has also been proudly featured on television on the shows The Daily Show, Entertainment Tonight, EXTRA, Treasures in your Home, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, "Kovel's on Collecting", TNN, 'E' Entertainment Television, & Unsolved Mysteries as well as dozens of documentary and News programs around the world. If you ever have the oportunity to travel to Metropolis, be sure to stop by the museum for some SUPERFUN FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY!!!
We have recently updated the museum store with new Superman items and collectibles. The museum has also been updated with rare pieces of Superman memorabilia from the past 74 years since the Man of Steel first debuted in 1938. We invite you to stop by for a visit soon!
USA Today recently wrote about the Super Museum and city of Metropolis in the Travel section of their world-wide publication.
The America Beautiful Network has announced the Super Museum as one of Illinois' Top 10 Attractions! Read more here.