A recent business trip took our family by Baltimore, Maryland. We stopped off at downtown for a couple of hours to visit Geppi's Entertainment Museum.
The museum is a celebration of American pop culture from the Brownies, to Buster Brown, to Batman, to the Beatles. Moving from room to room is like taking a trip through time. Visitors begin by pondering the Pioneer Spirit (1776-1894) as they view the toys of children from that era. The first commercialized pop culture characters were the Brownies who appeared on toys and other merchandise.
The museum took us on through the history of newspaper strips, comic books, antique toys and banks, old time radio, television, music, and movies. Many items displayed the likeness of pop culture icons including Mickey Mouse, Superman, Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Howdy Doody, the Beatles, Darth Vader, Mr. T., and many many more. The museum houses items which include toys, cereal boxes, records, books, action figures, lunch boxes, model kits, games, and much more.
One of my favorite parts of the museum is the Batman display with a life-sized caped crusader guarding glass display cases of Bat-merchandise. Included were replicas of the TV series' bat-phone and the Shakespeare bust that gave millionaire Bruce Wayne and his youthful ward access to the bat-poles. What amazed me is how much of this bat-stuff I actually have in my collection. I'd love to have a Batman museum or even a decent display case like they have in antique malls. Then I could unpack more of my stuff.
Another favorite part of the museum was the comic book room tracing comic history from the Golden Age to the Modern Age. Encased in glass were issues containing first appearances of Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Hulk, the Fantastic Four and many others, all in decent condition. I pointed out Action Comics #1 and told my kids that if we had a copy we could pay off our house and have money left over. Some of the most interesting comics were those with TV or movie photo covers with everyone from Lucille Ball, to John Wayne, to Fess Parker's Davy Crockett. The comic room also had a huge, perhaps complete (?), collection of Big Little Books.
Adding to the fun were cards with bar codes that could be scanned at monitors throughout the museum which asked pop culture trivia questions and gave you multiple choices. Cards were later exchanged at the gift shop for a prize. The museum was colorfully decorated with huge copies of comic covers, actual movie and adventure serial posters, original comic art, animation cells, and other treasures.
I first learned of the museum from my friend, Ron, who told me it was featured in this year's Jughead Free Comic Book Day issue in which Archie becomes a night watchman at Geppi's. The comic included the museum's web address.
So if you're ever in Baltimore, and you're a retro pop culture enthusiast, you'll love Geppi's. Our family got out of bed at 4:30 in the morning to arrive at this destination on time. The kids were excited and had pop culture t-shirts ready to wear that morning. They love vintage pop culture. We must be raising them right.