Gardnerville home to Fantastic Museum
Museums are full of history and attractions that are not likely to be viewed on a day-to-day basis. The Fantastic Museum located in Gardnerville, however, has a little bit of everything from historical attractions to rare, fun and even comical antiques.
“People have fun here,” said owner Jim Schmit. “This isn’t your normal museum. It’s full of rare objects, it’s colorful and full of history.”
One attraction is the 680-year-old, 9-foot Viking known as Olaf the Giant.
Another is the eighth President of the United States, Martin Van Buren’s favorite chair, including a visible black mark from where his head would rest, a 10-foot stuffed bear and mirrors out of play land. The collection consists of technologies, toys, circus attractions and history of the past.
The museum was originally owned by avid collector Walt Jones, also known as Doc Jones, it was family-oriented and filled with a unique collection of weird and amazing attractions, inventions and sideshows. It was located in Snohomish County, Wash., then later in Seattle from 1963 to 1980, and was an attraction at the Seattle World Fair.
After Jones died in the early 1970s, the museum was donated to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital per Jones’ will. It was stated in the will that if the museum was to ever be sold, it was to be sold as a whole and not broken up. That’s where Jim Schmit comes in, who is the current owner of the Fantastic Museum along with his financial adviser Angel Alger.
Schmit said he paid more than $400,000 for the collection and it has been displayed in Lake View, Redmond and Sisters Ore., including Eureka, Calif., South Lake Tahoe and now Gardnerville.
“It’s done real good in small towns,” he said. “There hasn’t been a single negative comment about the museum.”
Schmit doesn’t just own the museum or just collect the items. The man himself is knowledgeable of his collection and says it has been a passion of his since as long as he can remember.
He gives tours with enthusiasm and presents the items in a fun and educational manner.
“The people who have already been through really love it,” said Schmit. “Whether you’re two years old or one hundred and two, there is something for everyone here.”
The Fantastic museum is located at 1400 U.S. Highway 395 North, Gardnerville and is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Call to schedule a special group visit. A donation of $5 per adult is requested and children under 12 are free. Half of the proceeds go to Gardnerville charities. For more information call 541-548-0000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.