Judy Garland Museum Seeing Strong Visitation in 2021

A Recent $10,000 Donation from Celebrity John Oliver is Helping Keep the Museum in Good Standing Financially

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – The COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave small, non-profit organizations scrambling to pay the bills from month to month.

Staff at the Judy Garland Museum are thankful for visitors, and the recent visibility they’ve received from a well-known celebrity.

If you’re off to see the wizard in Northern Minnesota, you’ll end up smack dab in the middle of Grand Rapids.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Janie Heitz, executive director of the Judy Garland Museum. “We see a lot of people from all over the country.”

As Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home.

“We have an entire gallery dedicated to her life and legacy,” said Heitz.

At the Judy Garland Museum and nearby Children’s Discovery Museum, home base has been a quiet place over the past year and a half.

“The early part of 2021, we were hurting pretty bad. We rely on admissions,” said Heitz.

With travel down due to concerns over COVID-19, small-town museums tried anything, and everything to help keep the lights on alongside the Yellow Brick Road.

“We’ll just give it a shot, not expecting to really eventually reap the benefits of it,” said Heitz.

A board member for the museum spotted an opportunity from the host and comedian John Oliver on his late-night show, “Last Week Tonight.”

“The other locations that were chosen are small museums in larger cities – it will go to Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco, and Detroit,” said Heitz. “So we really are the only rural location that was chosen, so it was surprising but exciting.”

Oliver, giving away five, $10,000 donations to help keep small museums operating during the pandemic.

“I think the John Oliver exhibit will give people an additional reason to come to our museum and check it out,” said Heitz.

Now with renewed national notoriety, executive director Janie Heitz is optimistic for a brighter future.

“We’ve had a good summer with revenue, lots of people seem to be traveling and coming to see the museum,” said Heitz.

From high dollar donations to a few bucks here and there, Heitz says every penny counts to help keep the legacy of Garland alive, in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

“Giving back is always a wonderful thing and it is always appreciated,” said Heitz.

The museum will be celebrating Garland’s 100th birthday on June 10th of 2022.

They’re open every day throughout the month of September from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

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