“Are they closed?” My wife wondered as we parked outside the Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum in Clarinda, Iowa. I reminded her that we were often the only visitors at a tourist attraction. In fact, our visit to the South Dakota Hall of Fame started that way. We added Clarinda to our itinerary after seeing an ad for the museum in a copy of Our Iowa magazine on the first day of our trip.
Sure enough, the Miller museum was open for business. The woman in charge ushered us in to a screening room and started a documentary about the bandleader’s life. She said we didn’t have to stay for the whole thing but by the time we started getting restless, it was almost over. We couldn’t walk out right before they got to Miller’s untimely death. If they do choose to edit the film, they could probably shorten a few of the interviews and show highlights of the musical performances instead of full songs.
The museum is a year old and its collection is growing. Among other things, they had gold records, sheet music and musical instruments on display. My favorite item was the metallic bandstand donated by Tex Beneke. He inherited them after Miller’s death and used them for years. The museum replaced Tex’s name with a replica of the letters G.M. that had been there originally.
The museum is adjacent to the home where Miller was born. The birthplace is being restored and furnished to how it would have looked in 1904. They removed a part of the house that was added-on by a subsequent owner in 1912.