In checking out “must-see Baltimore,” the Geppi Entertainment Museum was consistently at the top of the list – though we’d never heard of it. In researching the museum, we discovered that this cellar of pop culture was the private, for-profit collection of one influential Baltimorian – Stephen A. Geppi (pronounced Jep-pi). After perusing the website, this quickly became a must-see for Kimmer too.
You see, as the baby of the family, Kimmer was – for lack of a better term – a bit spoiled by his much older sisters who would buy him comic books, GI Joe figures, video games and more. When we saw these retro toys listed in the inventory we joked that he might have been able to open his own museum.
We entered the building and took the stairs to the second floor. We paid the $10 admission, and were given access pins to wear (for reentry throughout the day) and one “Treasure Hunt” card each. There are related Treasure Hunt kiosks throughout the museum that would ask questions that could be found in the collections throughout the museum. If you satisfactorily answered the questions, we were told we could redeem the card for prize at the end. A pretty cool interactive idea if you ask me. Why don’t non-profit museums do this?
Our first stop, as encouraged by the museum map and staff, was a huge room filled with historic comic books and what was known as big little books (the first version of the comic book). Of course, the founder, Stephen Geppi, is founder and owner of Diamond Comics Distribution – the largest comic book distributor in the United States – and Diamond Select Toys.
The remainder of the collection is divided between seven other rooms.
- “Pioneer Spirit” looks at the early history (1776–1894) of toys in the United States, as well as The Brownies – the first toys marketed as pop culture.
- “Extra, Extra” focuses on newspapers of the first two decades of the 20th century and features popular (though a little insensitive) newspaper characters like The Yellow Kid and the Katzenjammer Kids and their role in early social commentary.
- When Heroes Unite” displays the most famous, and loved characters and collectibles the following decades, including Mickey Mouse, Superman, Dick Tracy and even Cowboy superstars like Gene Autry and The Lone Ranger
- “America Tunes In” focuses on the importance of television in pop culture and features everyone from Howdy Doody and I Love Lucy to sports heroes and space adventurers.
- “Revolution” focuses on the revolutionary1960s as seen in popular culture – spy movies, the as well as The Beatles, and the growth in popularity of toys like Barbie and G.I. Joe.
- “Expanding Universe” features new technologies from 1971 to 1990, such as video games and computers and the advent of the happy meal and a huge collection of Star Wars merchandise.
- “Going Global” looks at current movies, television and Internet pop culture figures from 1991 up to the present.
Though we only had a few hours, the Geppi Entertainment Museum is a great way to waste away an afternoon or to spend an entire day. We enjoyed every moment of our stroll through our childhood, and since we answered 10 questions correctly, we won a free comic book.
This will be the first comic book I’ve ever read – and I think Kimmer is hooked again, so we’re gonna need to budget for regular purchases when we get back from the trip.