Destination Kansas: The OZ Museum in Wamego

Destination Kansas

WAMEGO, Kan. — Kansas is known for many things – being the Sunflower State, its role in the Civil War, the large agriculture industry. But for those outside the state, its perhaps best known as the home to Dorothy Gale in “The Wizard of Oz.”

A trip to the OZ Museum, 511 Lincoln, Wamego, will put you right into the world L. Frank Baum created when he wrote “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

“We cover over 120-plus years,” said Chris Glasgow, curator, OZ Museum. “Everything from the birth of the author in 1856 to today.”

A visit to the museum includes interesting tidbits about the classic Wizard of Oz books.

“‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ was the first children’s book that had color illustrations,” Glasgow said.

Visitors will see props, costumes and behind-the-scenes information from the famous 1939 film starring a young Judy Garland. But the starring role was originally supposed to go to Shirley Temple.

“They went and checked out one of her shows and realized she didn’t have the singing, dancing and acting ability to handle the role,” said Glasgow.

The museum showcases everything in a fun, interactive and immersive way.

“Once you enter the museum, you’ll be transported to the sepia-Kansas world, just like you would be at the beginning of the 1939 film, and then you’re transported into the technicolor world of Oz,” said Marissa Streeter, OZ Museum.

In the museum, you follow Dorothy’s trip to Oz and meet some of her friends along the way.

“How we set up the museum, meeting the characters in order, they almost feel like they’re going through Oz themselves,” said Katlyn Stubbeman, OZ Museum. “We have different models of the characters, from Munchkinland to the haunted forest to the Wicked Witch’s castle.”

It’s not just the museum that will have visitors following the Yellow Brick Road. Downtown Wamego is also dedicated to “The Wizard of Oz” and has become the unofficial home of Dorothy Gale.

“L. Frank Baum himself never specified a town that Dorothy was from,” Stubbeman said. “He said later on in an interview that it was a town about 45 minutes from Topeka and that happens to fit perfectly for us.”

A trip to the OZ Museum is perfect for all ages and lovers of the books or the movie.

“It’s just been a staple in households for generations,” Streeter said.

“Most visitors grew up on ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ watching it yearly and everything, so they get to experience it all over again,” Stubbeman said.

The OZ Museum is open daily. Admission is $9 for adults and $7 for children ages 3 to 12. Visit OZMuseum.com for hours and directions.

Face masks and social distancing are recommended in the museum.

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