Here is a slideshow gallery of most of the images I took at the Superman Museum in Metropolis, Illinois. It’s one-of-a-kind, and well-worth doing, especially if you’re a Superman fan!
I love Superman. I have for as long as I can remember, and I can’t exactly remember when the fascination started. I don’t know what the first Superman image or media I saw. I do know that I grew up watching the ABC series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman every Saturday morning. Maybe that’s it. That ran from 1993 to 1997, and then within a couple years, The WB/The CW started Smallville in 2001, which I religiously watched for all 10 seasons through 2011. Dean Cain and Tom Welling (the actors who played Superman in each respective series) were my guys. In the years since both shows, I’ve also re-watched each series all the way through again. And still love ’em. They’re great, and incidentally, matched my sensibilities. As in, the Dean Cain Superman suited my childhood well, and the Tom Welling Superman suited my budding teenage years well.
I eagerly anticipated the Brandon Routh’s Superman Returns film in 2006, and of course, Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel film in 2013, and subsequent films. I will absolutely die on the hill that Man of Steel is the greatest superhero movie of all time behind maybe only The Dark Knight and, as I’ll get to, in the next sentence the original Superman film. Nobody compares to the master, Christopher Reeve, in the initial Superman: The Movie in 1978. One of my favorite projects I ever did was for my freshman high school English class where I did a biography presentation on Christopher Reeve, and hist post-Superman life, including his accident. What a man he was. He also made some guest spot appearances on Smallville!
I’ve also read most of the notable Superman graphic novel collections, such as All-Star Superman, Superman: Red Son, The Death of Superman, and so forth. I’ve seen most of the DC animated films featuring Superman and the Justice League.
A common (and incorrect, in my opinion) criticism of Superman is that he’s too perfect and powerful, and therefore boring. This isn’t the post to do a full-throated defense of Superman, but suffice it to say, I love Superman for exactly that reason. I like that he’s, well, super! Duh. But I also love the Clark Kent side of him, and his small Kansas family roots.
Superman is and will always be “my guy.” So when I heard there was a Superman Museum in Metropolis, Illinois, it was a no-brainer. I’ve known about this museum for a number of years now, and knew one day I would go there.
Whelp, yesterday, July 25, I had the chance to finally go! The funny thing is, coming from Cincinnati, it’s about a five-hour drive on the button. To my friends who don’t live in the Midwestern United States, a five-hour drive is a rather big deal. To folks like me who live in the Midwest, five hours isn’t much of anything. The way I look at it, if it’s less than eight hours, that’s not too bad at all.
Also, my geography skills are awful. I didn’t realize that Illinois and Kentucky are that close to each other, and in the case of Metropolis, Illinois, are only separated by a thin strip of the Ohio River. To my Illinois friend, this part of Illinois is virtually Kentucky, and it basically is, as it it’s within a few miles of Paducah, Kentucky, where my hotel was.
And yes, I kept as safe as possible with mask-wearing, hand sanitizer handy, and keeping my distance. There’s still a pandemic ongoing, people!
But anyhow, Superman’s city he protects and lives in in the comic books and movies is Metropolis, and in 1972, apparently (so says Wikipedia), the Illinois State Legislator officially designated Metropolis, Illinois as the “hometown of Superman.”
The Superman Museum sits in Superman Square in Metropolis, where a 15-foot painted bronze statue of Superman sits in front of the county courthouse. Down the street on Market Street, so the opposite end of the Superman statue, is also a statue of Noel Neill as Lois Lane. Neill played Lois in the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman.
And the museum itself was started in 1993 based on one guy’s private collection of more than 70,000 Superman items. There’s film, television, and comic props, toys, lunch boxes, coffee mugs, and from every era and iteration of Superman across all media. If you can put an image of Superman on it, it’s probably at this museum. It’s impressive.
Jim Hambrick, the collector, has one of the only George Reeves (who played Superman in the Adventures of Superman) costumes still in existence, according to the website.
The best part about being able to see all of this awesome Superman material aside from being able to see all of this awesome Superman material? It was only $5! I’ll be honest, when I looked at pictures online and read that it was based on one guy’s private collection, I thought that made sense. As in, of course it’s $5 because it can’t be that much of a museum surely.
Seriously, the pictures on the website, and even the more than 100 pictures I’ve provided in the slideshow at the top of the page, don’t really do the extensive collection justice. It’s impressive, and the museum itself is bigger than you would expect.
I would lightly, constructively critique the museum as being in need of some cleaning and polishing, which they seem to be doing because there were signs indicating they were working on updating the facility and such. Also, the gift shop attached to the museum could use a major upgrading. A lot of the items seem old and outdated, and if I’m being honest, overpriced.
But I just loved it. I loved seeing all the different eras of Superman over the last 75 years. He’s an enduring character, and there will surely be another 75 years of collectibles incoming.
If you’re ever in that area or are looking for a fun mini-trip, the Superman Museum is worth going to. Even seeing the 15-foot statue is cool, much less the museum, too. Also, because I’m a freak, I stopped at one of the local shops and bought a bunch of 1990s-era Superman comics. I’ll be reviewing those in the future, I’m sure.