Earlier this year I went on one of my biggest adventures to date. I headed halfway across the world and attended the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois. A place which won my heart in an instant. The people I met who lived and worked there made me feel welcome and I miss them all daily. While I was there I became an honorary citizen so a part of me is alway there!
One of my many highlights while I was there was visiting the Super-Museum. Wall to wall Superman items and a gift shop that I wanted to live in! I met with Morgan, who manages the museum with her husband, and she was such a joy to talk to. Her passion for Superman and Metropolis shined through her smile.
Morgan is a key member of the Superman Celebration so sadly I didn’t get to spend too much time with her while I was there. Through the magic of the Internet we have stayed in touch and I was very grateful when Morgan agreed to this interview. Join me as we talk with a true Super-fan and a soul who has done so much for the legacy of Superman, by following in her father’s footsteps.
How long has the Superman museum been creating happy memories for and how long have you been there?
I was born in 1986 so all of my childhood memories around the “museum” start with it being part of my home life in California, my dad was doing a traveling museum when I was very small and he did an exhibit at Movieland Wax Museum that I remember watching Superman the Movie clips with groups of school children as they passed through. At the time the Super Museum was moved to Metropolis I was the only daughter to take the journey with my dad. We set up a small shop a block down market street and eventually ended up at our current location a year later. I would come home from school to help my dad run the gift shop at the age of 8 while he set up the exhibits. It has been a huge part of my life, I’ve met a lot of people over the years and seeing how people react to the museum is one of my biggest joys.
There are thousands of items on display and each time I visited I spotted something new? Do you have any favourite pieces?
To me most of the pieces tie to childhood memories, I grew up in the museum so I played with a lot of the toys. My favorites change day to day, but its usually the items I have memories with that really stand out. I remember putting on the Lead Mask from the Adventures of superman and playing in our dining room. Now I don’t pick things like that up, but when you’re a kid you don’t realize what you’re playing with because it was just part of our home. I also really love the arcade machine because when I was little all the kids from our neighborhood would come over to play it with me and my sister.
Fans have travelled from all over the world to visit. Do you have any memorable encounters or have any celebrities dropped by for a surprise visit?
We’ve had many surprise visitors. Tommy Lee Jones came in many years ago, Merv Griffin, Obama before he was president, Clint Eastwood, many of the celebration guests come through, we’ve had many reality show crews come through. I am usually hanging out with camera crews and talking to them though, I like to hear who they’ve worked with, that’s fun for me because I like behind the scenes and production…which is why I like movie props and costumes.
If you had a blank cheque or a Genie’s lamp, what dream item would you like to have on display?
Full sets from movies…I like seeing people being transported, it would be fun for them to be able to have full scale sets to interact in.
You are a huge part of the Superman Celebration. How does it feel to see thousands of people visiting Metropolis to celebrate the hero you see every day?
It gives me a lot of pride when people come to our little town for the Superman Celebration. Our overall goal here when we came here was to build a theme park, and the celebration shows what it could be like year round if that were to happen. I love to see people meet their idols and people that played a part of making their childhood happy.
What is your favourite thing/memory about the Celebration?
When I was a kid I was lucky enough to sit down and have dinner with Adam West and Julie Newmar…that will always stick with me. Seeing Kirk Alyn and Jack Larson in Metropolis after we moved here is another special memory, Kirk came to our house often in California and when we moved here my dad promised he would never be the forgotten Superman, he donated his phone booth to the museum and because of that I get to talk about him every day and about the kind of person he was. I even have pictures of him as best man at my dad’s wedding.
Why do you think Superman is still one of the most celebrated heroes?
I say it all the time, Superman stands for what is good in our world. He tells us to stand up for what is right, help people that can give you nothing in return, stand up for what you believe in. He resonates with so many groups of people, his story has many biblical ties and he brings a system of morals that the world needed not just when he was created but today. I’ve met people that use Superman’s story as a way to explain adoption to their young children. You think of George Reeves, he taught the kids of the 50s and 60s a moral every week. He is still relevant after all these years, he’s now our grandfather’s Superman. Look at Christopher Reeve and what he went through to become a real life hero…he was as much of a hero off screen as he was on screen, he taught us that we can overcome any obstacle in our way with the right outlook. Superman like many comic characters helps people just as an escape from what is going on in their everyday life. Superman has enriched my life, running the museum and meeting people everyday, I get to spend my time with my family coming up with ways to make someone’s trip to Metropolis special for them. I’ve met so many people over the years that share their stories of how Superman got them through something in their life, or how dressing up as Superman as a kid was the happiest part of their childhood. Or how collecting Superman and the hunt of it is a bond for their friends and family….I know that first hand, I spent a lot of my childhood on toy hunts with my dad, or hunting for the perfect items to have in our shop so that when someone walks through that door and finds the toy they had as a kid their eyes light up like they’ve been reunited with an old friend.
I think I spent as much time in your gift shop as I did in the museum. I saw items in there that I have never seen before! What is your favourite in the gift shop or on your online store “SuperStuff.Com“?
That’s always changing, we have a constantly rotating inventory…I’m always happy when we get items back in that we had on display years ago. Anytime we have a toy that makes someone say “I had one of those…” and they share a story, I know I’ve done my job for the day. The smell of old comics, or familiar covers being on display makes me happy. I’m a big fan of golden age comics and the artwork, so I just like to have some of that in stock to be able to look at. We get lots of new items in too, I really enjoy when we get sent lists of the new inventory that is available from our wholesalers, especially when it’s something I’ve been asked for multiple times. It’s about bringing other people joy for me. But… CURRENTLY… we recently got a smashed penny machine and that has been a huge hit, it has put us on some sites like www.pennycollectors.com and we now have a whole new group of visitors coming through the museum JUST for pennies, it’s interesting to see what people collect and how they collect it. We update our website regularly too. www.supermanstuff.com
Can you tell me a little about your Superman Brick Program?
The Ham “BRICK” Project (a play on words referencing Museum founder Jim Hambrick) enables you to express your appreciation for Superman with an individually customised engraved brick! These commemorative “Ham” Bricks will be inserted into the sidewalks surrounding the SUPER MUSEUM to memorialise YOU and your fellow fans of the most famous fictional character in history!
The Ham “BRICK” Project enables individuals, families, groups, and businesses to “leave their mark” in the City of Metropolis. It’s an affordable and lasting tribute that will be seen by the thousands of fans who attend the annual Metropolis, Illinois Superman Celebration each June from all over the world!
Names, businesses, and personal sentiments can be memorialised on each engraved brick, or you can choose the special “Sponsor-A-Superman” program for custom Bricks engraved with celebrity names, quotes, or etched portraits of Superman or other images for the sidewalk! It’s Superman’s version of Hollywood Boulevard—but YOU are the star!
The Ham “BRICK” Project will also fund expansion and preservation of The Super Museum’s exhibits and help beautify the Metropolis Town Square!
What are your plans for the future? How do you picture the museum in ten years time?
My plan is to continue with the dream that My father, I, and now my family talk about every day. We moved here to bring his collection to open a museum, the original plan was going to be more of a “Superman Land” experience…my goal is to someday get it to that point, I would like to have his collection displayed as part of a theme park for families to enjoy. I envision Metropolis as more of a destination for Superman Fans to move to so they can be together with people of similar interest. I want to do not just one Superman event a year but MANY events throughout the year, I picture being about to do lots of events that children and adults could attend. I would like to have monthly artists, writers, celebrity guests at the museum to do appearances and talk to fans and do Q&As. Birthday parties, night at the museum, interactive museum displays for kids to play in and learn about Superman, team up with local theater groups and put on a superman on Broadway show… I want to be able to use what we’ve started to help people and build a better community…add some culture to the town. I want to be able to have school groups come through and learn about the history of Superman comic books.
One last question! Please can I come back to the Superman Museum next year when I come back for the 2019 Celebration?
You’re welcome to come…look forward to seeing you again!
Morgan, thank you so much for allowing me to interview and thank you for all your hard work and dedication that you put into the Superman Museum. Fans around the world are grateful for all that you do.