CLEVELAND - Cleveland is his birthplace, and soon you can get an up close look at everything "Superman.” A new Cleveland Public Library exhibit is set to open next spring with items from the world's third largest Superman collection.
The collection includes 17,000 Superman artifacts, ranging from action figures to kryptonite hot sauce. It includes many items that were never sold to the public, such as movie publicity items and prototypes.
“We're still opening boxes, doing initial inventory and appraisal, trying to process the collection and describe the items and then prepare an exhibit,” said Amy Dawson, manager of the Cleveland Public Library’s Literature Department and Ohio Center for the Book.
The items were donated by Superman super fan Mike Curtis, who lives in Arkansas and is the writer of the Dick Tracy comic strips.
“It just really grew through the years, and I collected seriously for about 42 years,” Curtis said. He said he first became interested in Superman watching the television series in the 1950s at the encouragement of his mother.
“She was a single mother of two boys and thought I needed a father figure and sat me down in front of the TV and said, ‘watch that man in the cape!’” he said.
He said he chose to donate the collection to the Cleveland library after about a year of discussions and a visit to Northeast Ohio.
“I thought, ‘well there's not a better place for it.’ It was the perfect place for it,” he said. “Thing is, people will see it into the next century and long after I'm gone, and I’m glad of that.”
High school friends Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who lived in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, dreamed up the superhero in the 1930’s.
A replica of the first Superman comic strip now adorns a fence where Shuster lived, at the corner of Amor Avenue and Parkwood Drive. A Superman logo and plaque stating “this is the house where Superman was born” and “they gave us something to believe in” sits in front of Siegel’s former home on Kimberly Avenue.
“Superman really touches a lot in collectors and the general public as well,” Dawson said. She couldn’t provide a value of the collection, simply calling it “priceless.”
The exhibit will be at the main library branch in downtown Cleveland. Curtis said he’s planning to donate some additional items, including a comic book collection.
For those who can’t wait until the spring of 2017 for a superhero fix, the Cleveland Public Library and Kent State University are hosting a Wonder Woman symposium September 22nd to 24th.