Nestled in the small town of Gladbrook, Iowa is the mecca of model building. It may not be world known, but if you are a fan of “Small Town Big Deal” or “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!” you are probably already a fan of Matchstick Marvels, the museum of large-scale models made entirely of matchsticks.
To call it a museum is a bit of a misnomer; it is more of a gallery for the works of Iowa native Pat Acton, who has spent the better part of three decades gluing, cutting and shaping matchsticks into ridiculously ornate designs. The museum is currently home to Minas Tirith, Hogwarts, the International Space Station, the New World Trade Center, the U.S. Capital, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and many other creations that will leave you in awe.
The museum was named one of the “must see” attractions in Iowa in 2006, and since then, Acton has retired from his counseling job to be a model-maker full time. Some of his pieces have also been purchased by Ripleys Believe it or Not! and are on display in their collections around the world.
If you are in Iowa, you should make the journey to the Matchstick Museum. And of course, no smoking allowed.