Above: Violet Lindsay, Penny Stigers, Tony Owen, and Kerry Remsen open the new museum.
Photo by Richard Jugel

Donna Reed Heritage Museum Premiers


On June 25, 2004, the Donna Reed Heritage Museum in the actress's hometown of Denison, Iowa, opened its doors to the public for the first time. In the dedication cerermony, local dignitaries joined Donna's family to cut a symbolic ribbon and discuss the significance of the new museum, which will feature art and artifacts from Donna's career and personal life.

"In this post-9/11 era that seems continually rocked by threats of terrorism and corporate scandals, many people are more interested than ever in exploring their roots, keeping close with family and rekindling wholesome values," said museum curator Joel Franken. "Donna Reed was the embodiment of family values, in both her work and her real life. The museum seeks to capture this character, and to preserve it for future generations to appreciate and learn from."

Among the debut exhibits are a collection of letters written by Donna to her pen pal of 48 years, Violet Lindsay. Through the letters, Donna describes her transition from farm girl to Hollywood movie star, including her first introduction to Jimmy Stewart with whom she starred in It's a Wonderful Life.

Violet Lindsay and her children from around the country visited Denison to participate in the museum dedication and to meet Donna's children for the first time - the pen pals never met or spoke while Donna was alive.

"We are excited to finally be able to share these treasures with the public," added Franken. "And the things we are revealing this year are only the tip of the iceberg. Future exhibits will include more movie memorabilia, clothing, costumes, TV and film props, personally annotated scripts, autographed photos and much, much more."

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