Imagine being in a room with thousands of clown figures staring at you. Clowns of all sizes, shapes and colors. Clowns with smiles and frowns. If you like clowns, you’ll love the Plainview Klown Doll Museum.
Located in a former gas station and café, the northeast Nebraska museum has more than 7,000 clown dolls, paintings and figurines on display. It’s considered the world’s largest clown collection. Before the current museum, clown dolls were displayed at the Chamber of Commerce building. A secretary put some dolls on a window ledge. Soon, people started stopping by and donating dolls to her collection. That marked the start of the Klown Doll Museum.
None of the 7,000 clown dolls are duplicates. Some are displayed on sides of mugs. Others are on hats. Some hang from the ceiling holding balloons.
Several large collections have been donated to the museum. Mattie Vanderpool of Yankton, SD, donated the first collection. A professional clown, Vanderpool collected clown dolls over the years and ended up with 1,500 to donate to the museum. A room is dedicated to Vanderpool’s clowns.
The Klown Doll Museum has received other large collections, including ones with 1,200 and 1,000 figures, respectively. All told, the museum has seven collections.
Clown paintings created by comedian Red Skelton hang in the museum. The five paintings are authenticated replicas of his original work. Skelton was a longtime entertainer, starting with Vaudeville before eventually moving into movies and his own television variety show. “The Red Skelton Hour” ran for 20 seasons.
The museum displays famous clown collections. Emmitt Kelly figurines line two walls in the lobby. Other notable clowns displayed include JP Patches, Bozo and Ronald McDonald.
Clown figurines appear in a variety of poses. A Christmas tree showcases holiday-themed clowns.
A carousel in the middle of a room is loaded with clown dolls.
Plainview’s love of clowns began in the 1950s with local business owners created a community band – the Klown Band. The “K” was something different and worked as part of the band’s name. The band still performs at events, including the Nebraska State Fair. The community hosts an annual Klown Festival in June.
The Plainview Klown Doll Museum is open 1-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday through Labor Day with free admission. After that, visitors can call to schedule a visit. We recommend visiting the museum.
For more information, please visit www.klowndollmuseum.com.