The Buster Keaton Museum in Piqua, Kansas is devoted to Buster Keaton, the film actor, writer, and director.
Keaton's parents were vaudeville performers that were in Piqua, touring with Harry Houdini as part of a traveling medicine show, and Frank Joseph Keaton was born in Piqua on October 4, 1895. That was his only connection with the community until many years later when he and his wife were driving through Kansas on the way to the State Fair, saw a sign for Piqua, and visited it.
In 1992, the nearby community of Iola started an annual event devoted to Keaton, and people started donating memorabilia. The Piqua water department houses the collection, since there are not enough visitors to justify staffing a separate facility. There are few visitors, the same page of the guest registry that we signed in the summer, went back to September of previous year.
The collection fills one room. Although there a few community history items out in the hall, the Buster Keaton Museum is just about Keaton, and surprisingly interesting. There are movie posters, articles and a great many photographs. There is also a small collection of his movies on video tape and visitors may play them.
Even to someone like myself, who was not familiar with Buster Keaton's work, the one room museum is fascinating. It made me want to view some of his work and returned for the Buster Keaton Celebration in nearby Iola, a few months later. The festival is in late September, and admission is free.
Although the official Buster Keaton Museum hours are 8AM - 1PM, the museum Curator, Judy Westerman, is often in the Rural Water District #1 office as long as 7:30AM until 4:30PM. Subject to her schedule, she is also happy to open the museum to visitors at other times, with an appointment at (620) 468-2385 or after hours at (620) 468-2385.
copyright 2008-2010 by Keith Stokes