This small, yet extensive museum houses many historic items from Judy Garland’s career and life. Several props and costumes from The Wizard of Oz are showcased, including the carriage ridden into Oz. Before it carried Dorothy and her friends into Oz, it was owned by Abraham Lincoln.
Connected to the museum is the modest historic home where Garland spent the first four years of her life. It has been restored to its 1920s decor. Grand Rapids businessman Jon Miner purchased the home for $50,000 in the 1990s and moved it to the current location, which is connected by a walkway from the main building.
The museum was also the site of a heist where a pair of ruby slippers, one of four used in The Wizard of Oz, were stolen in 2005 while on loan to the museum. The slippers were recovered in 2018, and in May 2023, a local man was indicted for their theft.
Garland’s legacy is kept alive by John Kelsh, the museum’s Senior Director. He’s spent half of his life raising money for the museum, building the exhibits, and making sure people in the town know that one of the biggest stars in the world got her start in Grand Rapids.
Kelsh believes Dorothy’s house is just as important as those inhabited by former presidents. Even more so because of The Wizard of Oz. “Does anyone know who Grover Cleveland is? Would they want to visit his house?” No, he explained. But, Judy’s house, rather Dorothy’s house will always remain an attraction. Because kids always know Dorothy. The small, classic wood frame house even looks like the one that landed on the wicked witch more than 70 years ago.
Know Before You Go
Every June the museum hosts a large festival celebrating all things Judy Garland and The Wizard of Oz. Adjacent to the museum is also the Children's Discovery Museum, a large interactive children's play area.