Over the years I have several times heard the legend of a great shrine to The Three Stooges somewhere out in the Philadelphia suburbs. More recently a friend who had read more about it fleshed out the story for me and I learned that it was actually in the historic town of Ambler, not far from the home of The Working Stiff.
I went there yesterday, finding it really just about 10 minutes from my house, and wow – what a first class establishment it is! (Note that they don’t allow any photography inside but I’ll link to their website so you can learn more.)
It is called The Stoogeum, which rhymes roughly with museum. It is in fact a very professionally curated museum of The Three Stooges and their story. The brochure claims “close to 100,000 pieces of Stoogeabilia” and boy does that seem to be the case! There are literally thousands of books, comics, flyers, and posters of different sizes. Costumes, studio props, and personal items such as Moe’s studio ID card, Shemp’s army discharge, Larry’s driver’s license. It is exhaustive.
There is a special exhibit to Shemp, called “The Hall of Shemp,” which is a 30 or so foot-long hallway lined with Shemp photos and other memorabilia. (I should mention here that I am probably in the minority of Stooge fans in that Shemp has always been my favorite!) Upon inquiry to the staffer there I learned that Shemp is the only Stooge honored in this way by virtue of the fact that he is the only one that had a very substantial acting career outside of the Stooge universe (the Stoogiverse?) – having played small parts in almost 100 films.
There are several video displays that play selected shorts throughout the 3 floors of the museum – oops Stoogeum – so you are hearing or watching Stooge antics as you wander through. There are interactive touch-screen display stations where you can learn all sorts of Stooge history. I went through the door marked “Theater” and was surprised to find a serious 85-seat theatre playing a rotating series of shorts. I sat for 20 minutes or so and laughed out loud quite a bit. I was the only person there.
There was also a small gift shop area in a sort of alcove that had a good selection of DVDs, T-shirts, mugs, stickers, and other fun Stooge stuff. I dropped a few shillings there and picked up a few “Stoogey” items.
Check out their website and give it a visit if you are in the Ambler area, which is about 30 miles due north of Philadelphia in Montgomery County. It really was a wonderfully put-together and first class establishment. Hmmm… now if only I could find such a place for James Bond…
The Working Stiff