This past weekend, I had an opportunity to spend some times with friends and Mr. Steve Sansweet at his ‘Rancho Obi-Wan’ museum in Sonoma County. Mr. Sansweet is famous worldwide for his incredible collection of Star Wars artifacts and memorabilia, having written and published many books, as well as having worked for Lucasfilm for over 15 years as Director of Content Management and Head of Fan Relations. His museum holds over 200,000 Star Wars items and spans over 9,000 square feet, and being able to view his diverse and comprehensive collection is truly amazing. Please note this is being broken into two parts due to the large number of photos – click here for Part 2.
Though the museum is not open to the public, the official website provides information and details about how to go about arranging a private tour of the compound, led by Mr. Sansweet himself.
Below is the mission of Rancho Obi-Wan:
Rancho Obi-Wan, Inc. is a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation whose specific purpose is to serve the public through the collection, conservation, exhibition and interpretation of Star Wars memorabilia and artifacts, using this collection to provide meaningful educational, aesthetic, intellectual and cultural experiences for a wide array of audiences and to carry on other charitable and educational activities associated with this goal.
Below is a link to the official website, which is at www.RanchoObiWan.org:
The collection, and tour, is so vast, it is hard to know where to begin. Starting with Mr. Sansweet, he was working as a journalist and reporter for the Wall Street Journal when the original Star Wars film was released in 1977, and still has the promotional booklet about the film that was sent to a colleague at the paper, which he rescued from the trash at the end of the day (see below).
The first thing that struck me about Mr. Sansweet and his vast collection is that, whether you are a fan of Star Wars or not, it is an incredible tribute to the very notion of fandom itself, that someone can be so moved by a creative work that it can inspire him to take such care in collecting, researching, and preserving its history in our popular culture. But one really needs to walk the museum to have a full appreciation for just how much Star Wars has impacted, as well as been reflected by, societies across the globe.
In addition to the overwhelming (and endless) eye candy that abounds, Mr. Sansweet provides a tour that is just as enjoyable. I don’t want to spoil it for future attendees, but some of the preludes to entering different areas (and there are many) reminded me of the now defunct ‘Star Trek: The Experience’ in Vegas, with some interactions with familiar audio and even on screen characters and dialogue. He certainly makes it all enjoyable, and was very open to about any question that we could imagine. A fantastic host.
I took many photos (hundreds), but thought I would put more of the original prop and costume related ones at the start, since that is the primary focus of this website. Having said that, I grew up with Star Wars – especially the toys – and I found just as much enjoyment (and particular nostalgia) looking at all of the old “vintage” era pieces on display. Special thanks to Mr. Sansweet and all involved in making the tour possible.
NOTE: PLEASE CLICK ON EACH IMAGE BELOW TO OPEN HIGHER RESOLUTION PHOTOS
Models used in the various Star Wars-related episodes/specials of Robot Chicken
Door behind replica band members (animatronic figures formerly from FAO Schwarz in Las Vegas) original door from Cantina in A New Hope
Darth Vader costume with mix of original and replica components – gloves, boots, and lightsaber replicas, remaining pieces believed to be from Empire Strikes Back
Original Stormtrooper boots
This was my favorite piece in the entire museum – the original prototype Boba Fett blaster, as seen in Star Wars Chronicles
Holocrons, cut away lightsaber, and other pieces made for the Star Wars Visual Dictionaries
Some of the remains of Qui Gon Jinn at the end of The Phantom Menace
Original crotch section costume piece used for the 4LOM bounty hunter character in The Empire Strikes Back
Original cantina masks and hands from A New Hope
Original hands used by Anthony Daniels as C3P0
Many original Death Star pieces from A New Hope
Original engineering sketch of the landspeeder from A New Hope
An ILM-made R2-D2 dome
Continue on to Part 2 for more photos…