A post from my Marvel blog of long ago detailing my first trip to the Geppi Entertainment Museum in Baltimore. The Museum closed down a few years ago, sadly.
While I was down in Maryland a week or so back for the Baltimore Comic Convention, I took a couple hours out Sunday morning to walk over to the newly-opened Geppi Entertainment Museum, dedicated to comics and character-related memorabilia. It’s an extraordinary place, and a must-see for anybody interested in the medium who hapens to be passing by the area.
Housed in Camden Yards right above the Sports Museum, the GEM covers about a dozen rooms, each one jam-packed floor to twenty-foot ceiling with rarities and one-of-a-kind items. Just about any rare and valuable comic book you’d want to see is on display, often in such pristine condition that it looked as though it had just come off the printing presses that very morning. Original artwork adorns the walls, along with vintage movie and serial posters, and distributor’s fliers for upcoming “new” comics such as SUPERMAN #3. A documentary about the famous EC Comics and the comic book Senate hearings of the 1950s runs on one kiosk, while a wall display shows the vintage origins of classic super heroes such as Superman, Batman and Spider-Man on a rotating basis.
In other areas, there are displays of vintage toys dating back to the 1800s, every kind of marble you could ever want to see, classic character banks from the ’20s (including a video display that allowed you to see them in action), and an assortment of decoder rings and club badges, premiums from the radio series of the 30s and 40s. There was an area in which you could listen to vintage radio broadcasts, ranging from Superman and the Shadow to Jack Benny or addresses to the nation by FDR.
As you moved along the rooms, it was like traveling forward in time–the theme of each chamber following sequentially from the last. And the ambiance was further heightened by the building, itself a historical landmark. Museum curator Arnold Bloomberg mentioned to guests that Abraham Lincoln had walked these very rooms 150 years earlier.
By the time of the 50s and 60s, there were interactive displays along with all sorts of merchandising from the period. A wall of vintage 50s cabinet televisions played episodes of Howdy Doody and Roy Rogers. The psychedelic art movement of the 60s was celebrated along one wall, while in another area, a display in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King was arranged.
You were literally on information overload by the time you got up to the material concerning the 70s and 80s, with vintage Star Wars and Star Trek displays, among other things. And material right up to the present day was represented, including all of the development drawings, original molds and prototypes for a Hawkman action figure based on the designs of Alex Ross.
What is most remarkable about this treasure trove is that something like 85% of the items on display are owned by a single individual, founder Steve Geppi of Diamond Distributors. There’s a short video message from Steve as you enter the gallery, and a brief biography as well.
I regret that I didn’t have more time to spend taking in the sights and poking around, but you can be sure that I’m going to swing through again at the soonest opportunity.