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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 08/25/2009

Celebrity Museums: Late Summer Road Trip?

By Liz Kelly

Burt Reynolds in 1977's 'Smokey and the Bandit.' (Universal City Studios)

Even before Michael Jackson's sudden death in June there had been talk of turning his one-time California estate, Neverland, into a museum where fans would be able to gather to pay tribute to the erstwhile King of Pop. But no need to sit home clicking online fan pages when several perfectly lovely celeb museums are already up, running and just waiting for you to arrive.

I've passed on the obvious (Graceland, Madame Toussaud's) to list some more obscure destinations. This selection is by no means exhaustive, so add any additional suggested stops to the comments section below.

Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum
Jupiter, Fla.
Make haste to this shrine to Florida native Reynolds, who you may remember as the open-shirted Bandit from "Smokey and the Bandit" or the skeevy old porn producer from "Boogie Nights" or as Loni Anderson's ex-husband. Why the hurry? Because the museum is in danger of losing its space. And that would be tragic -- because then Reynolds would have to find a new space to teach his master acting classes (a bargain at $40 a head) and to hang treasures like this.

Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center
Jamestown, N.Y.
Ball's hometown has gathered a ton of memorabilia -- including costumes, scripts, photos and awards -- from the "first couple of comedy." (Never mind that the "first couple" divorced in 1960 after 20 years of marriage and both remarried others.) Not to be missed: "CD Rom computers where you can enjoy 'A Family Scrapbook' created by Lucy and Desi’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz."

Las Vegas, Nev.
If you're expecting lots of pianos, tricked out cars and jewelry you won't be disappointed. But prepare to have your mind blown by a "re-creation of Liberace's Palm Springs bedroom" and the opportunity to get your very own Liberace pen or -- brace yourself -- life-sized stand-up cut out of Liberace in hot pants and argyle socks for a mere $39.95.

More Museums of Note:
-- Jimmy Stewart, Indiana, Pa.

-- Shania Twain, Ontario, Canada

By Liz Kelly  | August 25, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Celebrity Products  
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Liz Kelly, "Ontario, Canada" is a BIG place. Lest any of your devoted readers get lost in the bush and hurt themselves, thereby needing treatment in Canada's backwards and dangerous (and universal) health care system, you should amend your description of the location of Shania Twain's museum to read "Timmins, Ontario, Canada."

Also, you really don't want to go to Timmins. It's just blackflies, moose, and creepy forty-five year-olds with a thing for Shania there. You'd be much better served visiting North Bay, home of The Dionne Quintuplets Museum and the birthplace of ringette.

Posted by: byoolin1 | August 25, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Well, I was just going to say "somewhere north of the U.S." but my editor didn't go for it.

Posted by: Liz Kelly | August 25, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I visited the Liberace museum about 11 years ago, worth everyone nickel!! (But then again, we tend to go for things that are a little off the beaten track.)

Posted by: anonymouslurker | August 25, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I thought everyone navigated through Canada by following the trails of moose tracks and prescription medications.

Although I suppose the same could be said for Alaska. Ba-ZING!

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | August 25, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Classic road trip lit will point you to the Beat Museum, North Beach, San Francisco, and the Steinbeck Center down the coast in Salinas.

Driving across I-70 earlier this summer, I noticed that Kansas seems to be very proud of its native sons. This gives rise to things like the fantastic billboard at Russell, KS, "Boyhood Home of Bob Dole and Arlen Specter." (Talk about a place where there's something in the water! I kept driving.)

Posted by: northgs | August 25, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Hmmmmm...I've tried to go to the Burt Reynolds museum about eight times and it has been closed every time. Indeed, people who live in Jupiter attest that it is NEVER open. Did you do any real reporting on this one, Liz?

Posted by: thinman1 | August 25, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Jamestown, NY is only an hour or so from the border so you could make your way from there to Shania's place... be careful, though, there may be death panels in that 'other' country should you fall ill from malaria or something.

Posted by: kvs09 | August 25, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I am still looking forward to the day when I can visit the Bobcat Goldthwait museum and revel in it's aural purity and splendor.

Posted by: Gtulloss | August 25, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Ah. Tribute museums. Reminds me of an early-90s excursion down I-44 into Southwestern Missouri. Join me, won't you, as we:

* Visit Harry Truman's Birthplace -- It's a small, pretty house in a small, pretty town. (Lamar, Mo. Allow 10 minutes.)

* Pay tribute at the George Washington Carver National Monument -- The vending machine only sells peanut products. I think there also was a movie and a sample garden of plants farmed during GWC's time. (Joplin, Mo. Allow 60-90 minutes.)

* Explore the Precious Moments museum -- Drool at discontinued collectibles! Pray before a wall mural of the Twenty-Third Psalm illustrated entirely in PM figures! Pose with your arm around a lifesize Precious Moment character! Hear construction vehicles expand the grounds of the mansion of the creator of Precious Moments! (Carthage, Mo. Allow as long as you can stand this outstanding bonanza of kitsch; apologies to current PM collectors.)

Check their websites for more recent information.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | August 25, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Wagoner, OK. The Home of Tommy Biffle.

Posted by: reddragon1 | August 25, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Oklahoma, isn't there a Will Rogers museum there, in Claremore, I think? Also, is there anything commemorating Carl Albert in Bug Tussle?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | August 25, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

i admit it, i've been to the liberace museum. it is fantabulous.

Posted by: frieda406 | August 25, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

p.s. there is a wonderful shoe museum in toronto.

Posted by: frieda406 | August 25, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Frieda, there's also the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto! Doubtless our very own byoolin can discourse at length on the topic...

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | August 25, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I've also been to the Liberace Museum and it's great! I read that it used to be a huge draw but that that attendance has been declining in recent years, which is sad.

Posted by: TigerLily81 | August 25, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I believe here in the lovely Old Dominion there is a Dukes of Hazzard museum that has been lovingly maintained by "Cooter"...

Can't recall the town.

Posted by: LTL1 | August 25, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

For a while there, Debbie Reynolds had a museum in Las Vegas, but last I heard it may have closed (despite Todd Fisher's efforts to keep it alive). Not sure.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | August 25, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Alas, the Dukes of Hazzard Museum has closed in Sperryville, VA, but the branch in Pigeon Forge, TN is still open.

Posted by: reddragon1 | August 25, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps a trip to Ohio's Small town Museum in Ashville, which includes an exhibit of its most famous native son, John Holmes.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | August 25, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

And, before you ask, I don't know how big it (the exhibit)is.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | August 25, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Ohhh, THAT John Holmes.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | August 25, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Chowderheads! Don't forget the 3 Stooges Museum in Philly. The guy who runs it is married to the grandniece of Larry Fine, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!

Posted by: reddragon1 | August 26, 2009 7:06 AM | Report abuse

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