Arlene Wagner, known as the Nutcracker Lady, first became interested in nutcrackers in the 1970's when she purchased some pieces for her dance studio. It was the Nutcracker Ballet that helped fuel this obsession with the wooden characters. Then at a large antique show she and husband George discovered antique nutcrackers. That was just the beginning and they have been collecting nutcrackers ever since.
Her collection is considered one of the largest collections in the United States. Since we all can't visit the museum in person, a look around the website has loads of information for those who might be interested in collecting nutcrackers or those who just love to collect little tidbits and facts. e.g. The first known nutcracker dates back to the third or fourth century B.C. (it's in a museum in Italy), and the oldest one at the Leavenworth museum is a bronze Roman nutcracker dated between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D.
Arlene and George founded the nutcracker museum in 1995 and at this time the collection features over 6000 nutcrackers.
I love the fact that the Wagners welcome children to the museum and, in fact have a website dedicated to kids and collecting. KidsLoveNutcrackers.com is an informational site that is geared to children and what they might love about nutcrackers. It's mentioned how children of different ages love the various characters depicted, including Star Wars for the boys, storybook characters, historical figures. And of course the characters from the Nutcracker Ballet are favorites with children of all ages.
KidsLoveNutcrackers.com is also where you can find everything you want to know about how they are made, what kind and where. I love the Odd Ways to Crack a Nut.
- Where: 735 Front Street, Leavenworth, Washington
- When: 2pm - 5pm (May - October)
- 2pm - 5pm Saturday/Sundays (November - April
- Admission: Adults - $2.50
- Students - $1.00
- 5 and Under - Free
Nutcrackers and Nutcracker Collecting
Nutcracker Museum on Facebook
Restoring a 13' Nutcracker
Ardoria Studios on Facebook - Restoration work