Gladbrook, Iowa: Matchstick Marvels Museum

Pat Acton uses his spare time to build impressively-detailed, giant models of buildings, spaceships, whatever, out of hundreds of thousands of wooden matchsticks.
319 2nd St., Gladbrook, IA
Northwest of the intersection of Hwy 96/W. 8th St. and Hwy 47, at the corner of W. 2nd and Spring Sts.
Daily 1-5 pm Apr - Dec 1, or by appt. (Call to verify)
Adults $3, Ages 5-12 $1, Under 5 Free.
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Visitor Tips and News About Matchstick Marvels Museum

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Matchstick Marvel. Matchstick Marvels Museum

Fantastic! Currently there is Minas Tirith from the Lord of the Rings, about 10 feet tall and meticulously detailed. You can even trace the path to each level. The artist displays big pieces here for a while before selling. Last year (2010) it was Hogwarts.

[Deb, 08/12/2011]
Matchstick Marvels. Matchstick Marvels Tourist Center

Acton has created dozens of wooden models and sculptures made exclusively of ordinary wooden matchsticks. He has used millions of matchsticks and gallons of glue to create models that are highly detailed and painstakingly scaled. Also at the Center, you will see drawings and plans for many of the models, plus tools and equipment used in construction, and a video documentary of Acton's unusual hobby.

Many models have historical significance, such as large-scaled models of the USS Iowa battleship, the space shuttle Challenger, the Wright Brothers' Flyer, and the United States Capitol, which measures 12 feet long.

[Peggy Hyland, 02/24/2011]
Matchstick Marvels. Matchstick Marvel Museum

This attraction is wonderful, and the lady who greets you is super friendly and nice! Be sure you buy some of the local mustard they sell. It is great!

[Toni Brooks, 09/22/2010]
US Capitol made from matchsticks. Matchstick Marvels

This odd, but interesting, display features the work of matchstick sculptor (and career counselor!) Patrick Aston. Using only matchsticks, Patrick has painstakingly created detailed models of the U.S. Capitol, the space shuttle Challenger, the Iowa governor's mansion, the USS Iowa, the Wright Brother's Kitty Hawk, and much more. Literally millions of matchsticks and thousands of hours have been spent creating this work. Ripley's Believe It or Not museums have purchased several of Patrick's creations and they are on display around the world.

[Jeff Hoskinson, 05/02/2008]
Space Shuttle in matchsticks. Matchstick Marvels Museum

From a brief description in a recent newspaper article: "The Gladbrook Matchstick Marvel Museum includes 50 extraordinary models made from 2 million matchsticks, some of which have been featured in Ripley's 'Believe It or Not.'"

The builder of these models made many, many more, but they are currently in other Ripley's museums, all over the world. They have a short video about the builder/artist and how he does the construction. It's very "small town"...not a huge commercial entity. As a matter of fact, there are about five or six chairs in a semi-circle around a television monitor, on which to view the video. There is a slight admission charge to cover upkeep.

[Linda Cadwell, 05/20/2007]

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