A nostalgic experience at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum

The Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (GEM) in downtown Baltimore is home to more than 6,000 pop culture artifacts including toys, comics, dolls, games, photos and other memorabilia dating from the 1800s to present day -- including "The Lone Ranger Game," a popular board game produced by Parker Brothers in 1938. | U.S. Army photo by Rachel Ponder, APG News

BALTIMORE – Take a journey through 250 years of American pop culture at the Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (GEM) in the city’s historic Camden Station.

GEM is home to more than 6,000 pop culture artifacts including toys, dolls, games, photos and other memorabilia dating from the 1800s to present day.

“It is an incredible museum for reliving bits and pieces of your past,” said Michael Solof, GEM collections and exhibits manager.

A vintage Midge doll. Mattel introduced Midge as Barbie’s best friend in 1963. | U.S. Army photo by Rachel Ponder, APG News

The museum opened in 2006 and is owned by Baltimore native Stephen A. Geppi, the president of Diamond Comic Distributors, the largest distributor of English language comic books in the world. Near the entrance of GEM, the “A Story in Four Colors” gallery has a library of 1,000 rare comic books.

“It is like a museum within a museum,” Solof said.

The “A Story in Four Colors” collection includes the first comic book featuring Superman, “Action Comics #1,” dated June 1938 and the comic book with the first appearance of Batman, titled, “Detective Comics #27,” dated May 1939.

“Together those comic books are worth $5 million,” Solof said.

In addition, visitors can read digital versions of these and other rare, valuable comics. The museum also features six interactive galleries with memorabilia from different time periods.

For example, the “Expanding Universe” gallery features artifacts from 1971 to 1990. Memorabilia includes items from iconic movies like “Star Wars,” “E.T.” and “Ghostbusters.”

Visitors to GEM can also learn more about Baltimore’s pop culture icons in the “Baltimore Heroes” gallery. Collectables from outspoken movie director and screenwriter John Waters and famed musicians like Frank Zappa, Billie Holiday and Joan Jett are displayed here.

In addition to the permanent collection, GEM has temporary special exhibits. The gallery, “75 Spirited Years: Will Eisner & The Spirit” opened last month. This exhibit will be displayed until March 7, 2016, and includes more than 50 pieces of Eisner’s rare original artwork.

“He was the father of the graphic novel,” Solof said of Eisner, a cartoonist who is best known for creating a fictional masked crime fighter called The Spirit.

Vinyl dolls of the Beatles band mates John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr are part of the music display in the GEM “Revolution” gallery. | U.S. Army photo by Rachel Ponder, APG News

Maryland resident Frank Cho, a comic book writer and illustrator, is also spotlighted in the “A Story in Four Colors” gallery until Jan. 23, 2016.

Cho is best known for his comic strip and book “Liberty Meadows,” and has worked for Marvel Comics.

GEM is located at 310 W. Camden Street, Baltimore, Maryland. It is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for students, ages 5 to 18. Children under 4 receive free admission. For more information call 410-625-7060 or visit www.geppismuseum.com/, or search “Geppi’s Entertainment Museum.”

By Rachel Ponder, APG News