When we first established the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center in 2005, it was intended, as our mission statement illustrates, “to promote and encourage the study, understanding, preservation and appreciation of the work of Jack Kirby.” Being a true bootstrap enterprise, a “brick and mortar” presence for the museum was not necessarily practical or an immediate concern, despite our desire to see it happen.
But – whenever we set up at comic book conventions or attend any event, we’re always asked the crucial question: “Where is the museum located? I want to visit!” It’s a question we’ve fielded via snail mail, telephone, email, tweet, and Facebook, and one we’ve decided to finally tackle head-on.
Summer 2011 should have witnessed an explosion of interest in Jack Kirby and his legacy. Three feature films were released between May and July featuring characters that Jack created or co-created (Thor, X-Men, Captain America, and most of their milieu). As of this writing, those films have combined to capture more than $1 billion in box-office receipts – this is in addition to the revenue generated through advertising and licensing. Clearly, millions of people know Jack’s characters and stories. His original work on these characters continues to be reprinted and spotlighted as the genesis of these multi-million dollar properties, and Jack’s art is reaching thousands of new fans every day.
So, why is Jack Kirby still a secret?
As a potential answer to that conundrum, I’ve spent some time this summer with the Museum’s new volunteer assistant director Michael Cecchini scouting locations near where Jack grew up on New York City’s Lower East Side. When Kirby lived there, the Lower East Side was a hellish ghetto that he moved his family out of at the first opportunity. Now it’s one of Manhattan’s most interesting neighborhoods; there are shops, restaurants, clubs and galleries.
Our intention is to set up a temporary, or “pop-up,” brick-and-mortar location for the Jack Kirby Museum. We think the perfect opening time would be during New York Comic Con in October and have it run through the end-of-year holidays to the next January. The ideal size for this purpose is between 800-1,200-square-feet, and would feature original artwork, artifacts from Jack’s life, prominent guest speakers, educational programs and installation pieces inspired by and celebrating the unique work and life of Jack Kirby.
A space like this dedicated entirely to the life and work of Jack Kirby would be equally appealing to seasoned art patrons, pop-art connoisseurs, casual fans, tourists, and families. Successful implementation of this pop-up museum will allow us to pursue the ultimate goal of a PERMANENT space for the Museum in the near future.
Again, nothing like this has ever been attempted. And, in order to make this happen, we need funding.
This is where the Kirby fans come in. If you are a Kirby Museum member in good standing, know that your membership dues have helped us get to this point, but our trustees have required that we fund this exciting project independent of your membership fees. So, please, if you’re considering joining up, we’re happy for your support, and the same membership premiums apply. But if you’d like to help us attain this wonderful goal of giving the Jack Kirby Museum a home for a little while in the now-vibrant Lower East Side, please contribute specifically for that purpose using the “Brick and Mortar fund” button on this page (or just mention “brick and mortar” or “popup” fund in any payment).
We understand that trying to raise significant funds in such a short amount of time is ambitious. Our current estimate is that we’d need more than $30,000 to fund the real estate end of the project (rent, legal, security, insurance, etc.) for ten to twelve weeks. While this sounds like an awful lot of money (and… it is!), it’s really just a question of finding 1,000 Jack Kirby fans willing to donate more than $30 each! Simplistic? Perhaps. We prefer “optimistic”, though. We don’t underestimate Kirby fans. Naming and sponsorship opportunities for exhibits, publications and programs are still being developed; we welcome any discussion going forward.
Everyone who donates $20 or more will have free admission to the pop-up Museum. If you’re already a Museum Member, a donation of $20 or more allows you to bring a friend for free. Everyone who donates will get some Kirby Museum postcards and stickers (new postcards and stickers coming in time for New York Comic Con in October!).
If we don’t meet our goal in time to open this October, we’re going to press on, keep raising the funds and open the pop-up as soon as we can (just not in the cold of winter). We’re making this project a major focus of the Museum until further notice, as we realize now, in light of recent events, that by far the BEST way to open eyes and minds to Jack Kirby and his legacy is with a physical location. And in the event that the generosity of Kirby fans allows us to exceed our goal? Well, then we’ll just have to keep the gallery open even longer, or maybe even investigate a long-term, permanent lease.
Remember, the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, so please, before making a significant gift, you should consult with your financial, tax, and legal advisors for a thorough analysis of your individual situation and the tax consequences.
If you know anyone willing to help with this project, please point them our way. We’d be honored by your generosity and support.
Thanks for your consideration and support,
- Rand Hoppe
(as well as Mike Cecchini and the board; David Schwartz, Tom Kraft and John Morrow)