James Dean was a heart throb that touched thousands, and his classic cool charisma and image is still mimicked today. The James Dean Gallery opened to the public in 1988 as a memorial to the late actor. The gallery is located in Gas City, Indiana and displays tons of memorabilia from Dean’s life and career. Curator and archivist David Loehr exclaims that his collection is the world’s largest James Dean exhibit, and Hoosiers take great pride in calling James Dean one of their own.
Over the years, Loehr’s collection outgrew its original site in Fairmount, Indiana so in May 2004 the gallery was relocated to Gas City. Now the gallery is inside of a 7,200 square foot facility that houses six-rooms of interpretive exhibits. The James Dean Gallery features three display areas specifically dedicated to Dean’s motion pictures, East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant. Photos, magazines, sculptures, posters, mugs, game cards, bronze busts and more memorabilia are on display here too. The gallery even features a 35-seat theater where visitors can witness Dean’s early television appearances. James Dean enthusiasts and fans make an annual pilgrimage to eastern Indiana in order to pay homage to the beloved bad boy.
One breathtaking exhibit at the James Dean Gallery is a replica of Dean’s 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder. This is the car the actor was driving when he was killed in a car crash in Cholame, California. Over the years several students, authors and film-makers have studied or researched at the gallery’s archive and library.
Gallery visitors can stroll through James Dean’s Indiana footsteps, beginning where he was born in Marion, Indiana, stopping at his boyhood home and Rebel, Rebel (a 1950s nostalgia store where the gallery was originally housed) in Fairmount, viewing the James Dean Gallery in Gas City and ending up at his grave in Fairmount, Indiana. Each fall there is an annual memorial in the area that attracts global guests, from Indianapolis, Indiana to Tokyo, Japan. This is a unique Hoosier experience that even Indianapolis kids can enjoy, making it a great day trip from Indianapolis for the entire family.
This day trip is a must-do for Indiana history buffs, and it’s only 80 miles east of downtown Indianapolis.While you’re out east, be sure to check out the Grissom Air Museum in Peru, Indiana, the Mid-America Windmill Museum in Kendallville, Indiana or the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana. Expand your Hoosier history knowledge by studying other Famous Indiana People.