There are American super heroes and then there are the “real heroes.” Dane Nash, owner and curator, believed both were to be honored, so that’s what he did in his now closed American Super Heroes Museum in downtown Indianapolis.
To be sure, most of the museum of more than 3,000 square feet was devoted to the Super Heroes — most notably Superman but also Batman, the subject of a once increasing number of important displays.
For example, in the short time since the museum opened at the end of March, 2007, he had added a full-sized replica 1989 Batmobile from the Michael Keaton Batman motion picture along with a Bat Boat — stowed away in the Bat Cave — from the 1966 television series where Adam West portrayed the crime fighter. Another addition was an original 1966 Robin custom worn by Burt Ward in the TV series.
Superman still dominated the Super Heroes category, however, with the largest number of artifacts, collectibles and souvenirs for sale. I you wanted something to remind you of the Man of Steel, it was probably there including coffee mugs, toys and just about everything else that can hold a Superman logo. Museum visitors were allowed to proceed at their own pace in looking at the displays, which covered the “super heroes” as they appeared in comic books, TV, the movies and radio.
Dane says his collecting frenzy took off when a family friend was able to help him get a George Reeves Superman outfit from an old TV Superman series in the late 1950s. He even has a white shirt and tie worn by Reeves in the series as “the mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent.”
The Christopher Reeve Superman costume from 1983 is a “screen” one — used in filming but, even more, has an original belt and shoes. Nash explains that the movie producers would only have one belt and pair of shoes for perhaps as many as 30 costumes. They would be constantly refurbished and used again and again. Hence, the number of originals is limited. Perhaps the most difficult costume to obtain and most valuable, however, says Nash, is the black-and-white Reeves’ costume.
The museum even contained a Supergirl costume from the 1984 motion picture that failed in its effort to add the opposite sex to the “super” characters.
As important as these “super heroes” are to the collector, they are not what totally had Dane's attention. It was his new lobby display, the “real heroes tribute case.”
The idea was to devote the tribute case on a revolving three-month basis to police, firefighters and the military. The first tribute was dedicated to an Indianapolis police officer, Robert Manley, killed in the line of duty Dec. 12, 1974 — a “real American hero,” as Nash puts it.
Not only was this tribute part of the heroes museum but, in addition, all police, firefighters and members of the military were admitted free.
The museum closed at the end of 2007 for financial reasons.