CollectionsAll of the clown dolls that are part of the display were given to the museum by a wide range of people. Some have come from other countries. Some were made for klown doll contests in Plainview. Others were clown dolls that residents owned, or saw in their travels, and purchased and gave to the museum.

More are being given regularly, and all gifts of clown dolls are welcome and much appreciated. They are numbered and a registry is available which tells who donated each doll.

The first major contributor to the collection was Mattie Vanderpool, a resident of Yankton, S.D., and a professional clown. She had collected clown dolls over the years with nearly all of them given to her as gifts. Her tally came to over 1,500 clown dolls in a wide variety of styles and shapes and colors and sizes. She loved to come to Plainview for the Klown Festival, usually bringing 200 dolls or so from her collection to be displayed during the celebration.  Mattie had decided that when she could no longer take care of her collection, the Plainview Klown Doll Museum should be the home for her collection, with the stipulation that they be made available for others to enjoy at a very nominal fee. That nominal fee ended up being ”free.” Mattie passed away in 2002 and her collection is now in the “Mattie Vanderpool Room.”

There was a clown doll collector from the western part of Nebraska who had her collection in a separate room, designed as a circus tent, adjacent to their grocery store.  The store was sold, she developed cancer, and while recuperating she felt the need to enter the ministry. She took theological courses and began serving a Methodist congregation in western Nebraska, and more recently has been assigned to Oregon. The Rev. Jeri Soens was a friend of Mattie Vanderpool and felt her dolls weren’t doing anyone any good in a spare room of the parsonage and decided the Plainview Klown Doll Museum should be the home of her collection.

A woman from Oregon contacted the museum and explained that her late mother had a large collection of dolls and her Last Will & Testament had requested that they be located in a museum.  They found a museum in Oregon, but, unfortunately it had gone bankrupt.  The family didn’t know what to do.  But their next meeting with their attorney brought smiles.  He handed them a rack card from the Plainview Klown Doll Museum. The widower soon made a trip to Nebraska to visit relatives and all made a trip to the museum to see if it looked like the place for Ginny’s dolls.  It was, and they sent them.  Some 1,200 dolls make up that collection in the museum.

Visitors to the museum in 2010 asked the question if their dolls could be located here, but if they wanted some or all back at a later date, would that be possible.  They were told it was – and they are now on display in the new entrance addition to the museum.  This collection, while smaller in number, probably is greater in value for they are part of the Emmett Kelly Jr. Signature Collection which had been owned by John and Lola Willats of California.  Of interest in noting, Mr. Willats worked in the museum when it was a service station with the car service bay in the center portion of the present building.  Of additional interest, his wife, the former Lola Schultze of neighboring Osmond, Nebraska, had worked in the restaurant which is now the Mattie Vanderpool room.

Sister Maribeth Wentzlaff was being transferred to a different ministry and no longer had room for her collection of dolls. She had been an advisor to a drug and alcohol prevention group, “Clowning Around With Prevention” or C.L.O.W.N (Children Learning Other Ways Naturally), a program that teaches children in grades K-12 about drug and alcohol prevention, positive self-esteem and positive peer pressure.  Her students had done well in the program and began bringing her dolls for her collection.  She ended up with over 200 dolls, now quietly at rest in Plainview.

Theresa Petersen, a retired school teacher, was  the secretary for the Plainview Chamber of Commerce twenty years ago and she put a clown doll on the window sill of her office. People then started to bring clown dolls to keep company with those already in the office.  This was the start of Plainview’s Klown collection.  In the current Museum there is a display of dolls donated by her family, in memory of the originator.  Every effort to find the first doll shown in a picture in the Petersen collection has come to naught and we need to be satisfied with a look at the picture instead.

Any individual or family that donated 15 or more dolls has their donations displayed together as a “family” on shelves in the Museum. Families of dolls have been donated by the Ray Doerr family, L.R. Gillespie, Bonnie Wendt, Gary Sorensen, Shirley Hoffman, Warren Lingenfelter, Dr. Sunday Bockelman, Sue Stark, Rose Froehlich, Lee and Janyce Warneke, Verlyn Falter Thomas, Lester Anderson Estate, the Kevin Endorf Family, Kathy and Joe Baratta, Daphny Cosby, Dorothy Haselhorst, Lois Phillips, Stacy Jurgensen, Robert W. Parker and Father Jim Kramper.

Collections of over 100 clown dolls have been provided by Marvetta Robinson, Pat Langhorst, David and Teri Headley and Margaret Johnson. Collections of over 50 clown dolls have been provided by Gene and Barbara Young, Sandra Cummings, Darold Rasmussen, Susan Schmidt and Stanley and Rose Nosiki. 


Red Skelton paintingsFive large framed pictures, reproductions of the original painted by Red Skelton are on display in the museum. They have Certificates of Authenticity signed by Skelton himself authenticated by his thumb print.