The History Of The Largest Three Stooges Museum

The comedy team known as The Three Stooges has managed to entertain generations of fans for over a century. From their roots in Vaudeville to their leap to the big screen in shorts and feature films, the wacky and violent team of lovable idiots have been woven deeply into the fabric of entertainment. When the short film industry had waned in the early 1950s, The Three Stooges found their careers resurrected by a new entertainment medium known as television. Local networks began showing the film shorts featuring Larry, Moe, Curly, and the rest of the gang to younger audiences who might have otherwise been oblivious to their comedic greatness. Merchandising featuring the Stooges was a proven cash cow, with their likenesses still being featured on everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs to lunch boxes. There have two cartoon series based on their exploits as well. "The New Three Stooges" (per IMDb) aired nearly 200 episodes in the mid-1960s, the characters' voices provided by Larry, Moe, and Curly-Joe. In 1978, the antics of America's most lovable fools were resurrected once again, this time in the animated series "The Robonic Stooges" (also via IMDb), though with none of the originals providing voices.

With a giant body of work that includes scores of film shorts, half a dozen feature films, and countless live performances, it's probably not a surprise that there have been museums dedicated to one of America's greatest comedy teams. The largest exhibit of Three Stooges artifacts and memorabilia is displayed outside of Philadelphia, in what has been called "The Stoogeum."

The Stoogeum hosts nearly 100,000 pieces of Stooge memorabilia

The Stoogeum boasts of nearly 100,000 pieces of what they refer to as "Stoogeabilia," staged in different areas of a three-story, 10,000-square-foot building. Here, you'll find an entire world of Stooge artifacts, ranging from authentic one-sheet movie posters to lobby cards. There are displays dedicated to a lot of the props used throughout the Stooges' career, as well as costumes worn by the gents and their co-stars. 

From their feature films in the 1960s, you'll find the submarine tank that was used as a prop in "The Three Stooges in Orbit." Also from that era are the costumes worn by the Stooges in "Snow White and the Three Stooges." There's also an entire area dedicated to the wide variety of merchandise that bear the Stooges' likenesses. Sets of commemorative Three Stooges plates, Halloween masks, action figures, and even nesting dolls can be viewed by visitors, really giving you an insight into how popular this trio of slapstick performers has been.

The Stoogeum also hosts an area dedicated to the countless pieces of fan art that have been submitted and collected over the years. Professional and amateur artists alike have their work on display at this public shrine to the Stooges, made up of paintings, drawings, ceramics, and more. Finally, no visit is complete without screening a Stooges film short. The Stoogeum also has an 85-seat theater that is perfect for this purpose. 

The Stoogeum is the home of the largest Stooge fan club in the world

Every year, between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors pay homage to the beloved Stooges by paying a $10 admission and spending part of a day taking in exhibit after exhibit (per Guide to Philly). You can currently visit the Stoogeum by appointment only, making the necessary arrangements on their website.

If you were wondering why a dedicated shrine to the Three Stooges was erected in Philly instead of New York, the home city of the Horowitz brothers (Moe, Curly, and Shemp), that answer lies in the roots of Louis Feinberg, aka Larry Fine. Feinberg was born and raised in Philadelphia, making the City of Brotherly Love closely connected to the comedy team. Feinberg's brother Morris operated a fan club dedicated to the Three Stooges for two decades, before handing it over to his son-in-law, Gary Lassin. A Philadelphia native himself, Lassin worked to open the Stoogeum in 2004.

The Stoogeum offers more than just displays of memorabilia and runs of their short films. The home of the largest Three Stooges fan club, the Stoogeum hosts an annual meeting that brings together surviving cast members, family members of the comedic legends, and Stooge impersonators. It's a revered place by any standard, and a must-see if you are a dedicated fan of the Stooges.