The Land of Oz Museum in Wausaukee, Wisconsin, is jaw-dropping fun. Garry Parrett started his collection with a single collector’s plate and in 30 years it’s easily grown to be one of the largest Oz collections in the country. While most of us with lots of Oz material fill the corners of our homes with it, Garry managed to acquire a vacant two-story American Legion building to display his. And what a legacy he has built!
There’s the gobsmacked moment when you first walk in and stand on the hand-hooked map-of-Oz area rug for a slow pivot. Floor to ceiling Oz everywhere. Walls covered. A row of albums circles the entire room at the ceiling like cove modeling. Displays, cases, and mannequins fill the space.
Most of Garry’s visitors have seen little—if any—of this material before. I’m a different nut to crack, so his tour with me focused on unusual items, clever displays, and acquisition stories tied to friends we have in common. I loved spotting things I’d not known about, or had heard of but not seen before.
A few delightful surprises included the discovery that a 1970s metal wastebasket was made in three nested sizes! And his Tales of the Wizard Dorothy was about half the size of my own. I had no idea there was more than one size. (Now I wonder about the Socrates and Dandy Lion dolls in that set. Did Rick Goldschmidt have a small Dandy Lion? The hunt is on.)
Garry had a great chalkboard with Denslow-style witches that had a clock in it. And that Land of Oz plastic tea set I’ve never even seen in person was still in its original plastic. His Story-lites Christmas bulb covers were still in their original box, too. There were over-sized puzzles. A five-gallon can of Tin Woodsman Wood Preserver. Just something to see at every turn.
Garry filled the building’s kitchen with cookie jars, glasses, dishes, and tea sets. What were once bathrooms are now Christmas and Halloween Oz displays. A back room is packed with games, puzzles, and toys—the 1923 Parker Bros. Wonderful Game of Oz worked in with 1939 British puzzles, and pieces of more recent vintage.
Think you’re about done with the tour? Think again. There’s a whole ’nuther floor yet to explore!
The stair landing area is piled with plush toys of all sizes. Then downstairs the real toy show begins. Children’s playthings are just everywhere tucked in and around child-size Oz furniture. There’s even a small bed covered in Oz sheets and blankets.
By the time he’d pointed out everything he thought would be of particular interest, I’d seen stage-used props from Wicked, shelves of Oz beauty products, store merchandising stands, a run of Ron Lee sculptures (he still needs Toto!), and a case filled with Ruby Slippers.
We eventually wrapped up to find dinner and call it a day. But what a day I’d had. I suspect it’s the dream of every collector to have this much space, although, speaking as someone who has more space than many, Oz can fill as much space as you can give it. I think maybe it multiplies overnight.
Thank you, Garry, for a glorious time. And thanks for stamping my Oz Passport as I begin to keep track of my Oz adventures. Next up? Oconomowoc, Wisconsin!