Iowa summer sights “John Wayne birthplace museum”

Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway -John Wayne

Statue of John Wayne at the entrance of the newly built museum in Winterset, Iowa

The only area of the museum where pictures are allowed, along with props for kids to try on and take a picture in. Nice job Addie!

I am finally getting to my last blog post ( I believe) of our summer travels around our beautiful state. I had a MISSION this summer to show my children some of the great places our state has to offer and we saw several. One of my favorite though was the John Wayne birthplace and museum. The home is located in Winterset Iowa and very recently they built a new museum next door which was still not completely finished. When we were there they had tile in the entryway that had not yet been laid etc. Overall though the place was ready for visitors.
The visitor center and museum tour starts with a video about the life of John Wayne and some clips about his famous films and television shows he has starred in. plays on a continuous rotation and if I recall correctly lasts about 10 minutes.

From there you move into a large room that has memorabilia from John Wayne’s life on display. There are pieces of hollywood props and sets he used, old letters and scripts etc. There are no videos or pictures allowed in the room, which really was the biggest downer as I would have liked to have taken some to show my husband. Oh well.

From this room you exit the building and if you paid to also tour his birthplace you walk next door and take a tour of the very small home that is right beside the museum. The picture of the decorated conversion van was taken between the two. From the looks of it, this van was custom-made by a super fan and they allow the museum to park it there for display at various times throughout the year. It was kind of parked off the sidewalk under a carport between the 2 buildings.

 The house was neat. Very small, and was crowded the day we were there. It was a weekday in August, but that is also prime tourism season so I am sure that contributed to the congestion. Everything in the house is on 1 level and it takes only about 10 minutes to see it all. It is very small and is decorated to look like period for his life but does not contain a lot of actual John Wayne items. Interesting, but the whole tour of both buildings did not take as long as I would have thought.

My kids were (eh..) on the whole thing… they really do not know much about John Wayne so that is understandable. I enjoyed seeing it because I am a person who likes to see and experience as much as I can. I have no plans to return though. I appreciate any opportunity to support small town Iowa attractions though and would recommend this as a stop if ever in the area.

We were able to experience this museum and also the covered bridges in Madison County – read more here Iowa Summer sights, Bridges of Madison County in an afternoon along with an ice cream stop.

I think this is my last post about Iowa summer sights…. that is until I find more pictures in my camera and I remember another stop we made…

Thanks for reading!


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