Osa and Martin Johnson

(Frank) And we’re back again. Don’t we have fun here? (Deb) We do. Now we’re going to go from a wild man to some wild beast. So have you visited the Osa and Martin Johnson Museum down at Chanute, Kansas? (Frank) No. (Deb) It’s a wonderful museum and I had not been there until a couple years ago. Jackie Zimmer is the director there. And her husband, remember the bookstore? (Frank) Lloyd. (Deb) Lloyd, our dear friend. They are just a wonderful couple. And she does an amazing job. They actually had a film crew from, oh shoot, the Czech Republic, I believe it was. This young couple who were making a film about Osa and Martin Johnson. And they came to Kansas and interviewed Gary Clark and lots of folks. And of course, Lloyd and Jackie helped them do all kinds of stuff. And I was invited to a reception at their house to meet this lovely couple. And so maybe one day they’ll be back in Kansas and we’ll share then. But we’ll share information on their film project and how that’s going. But again this is a wonderful cozy place to go. Take the kids, take the whole family. There’s something for everybody. And the library is in the same building. (Frank) Huh, well you can actually see Teter Rock and the museum all in one fell swoop if you like. (Deb) That’s right. It’s conveniently located. And Osawatomie is not that much far either. So, you can hit all three of these spots in one day. (Frank) Hey there you go. (Deb) At least one weekend. (Frank) A day trip. (Deb) A day trip, that’s right. Let’s take a look. In the first half of the 20th century an American couple, Martin and Osa Johnson, captured the public’s imagination through their films and books of adventure in exotic, faraway lands. Photographers, explorers, marketers, naturalists and authors, Martin and Osa studied the wildlife and peoples of East and Central Africa, the South Pacific Islands and British North Borneo. They explored then-unknown lands and brought back film footage and photographs, offering many Americans their first understanding of these distant lands. Osa Leighty was born and raised in Chanute, Kansas. Martin grew up in Lincoln and Independence. Martin took part as a crew member and cook in Jack London’s 1907–1909 voyage across the Pacific aboard the Snark. After that, he started a traveling road show that toured the United States displaying photographs and artifacts collected on the voyage. He met Osa Leighty while passing through her hometown. Osa later penned a bestseller, I Married Adventure, which sums up the colorful couple’s life. Television’s first wildlife series, Osa Johnson’s The Big Game Hunt premiered in 1953. The Walt Disney Company was the first organization to license Johnson film from the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum for the 1976 program “Filming Nature’s Mysteries.” Disney again licensed Johnson film as part of the “Rafiki’s Planet Watch” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom when it opened April 22, 1998. The architects and Disney team developing a new “safari lodge” borrowed Johnson films from the museum in 1997 and 1998 for research and inspiration. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge opened April 16, 2001. Included is an ongoing exhibit of 36 Johnson photographs. Martin and Osa Johnson were the namesake, inspiration and background story for the 2006-2010 Martin + Osa clothing line and national chain of 28 Martin + Osa stores launched by American Eagle Outfitters. The Safari Museum was formed in 1961 to preserve the Johnsons’ achievements and to encourage further research into their fields of study. The museum started with a core collection of the Johnsons’ films, photographs, manuscripts, articles, books, and personal belongings donated by Osa’s mother but has grown and flourished since then. The museum shares the beautiful old railroad depot with the Chanute Public Library. In 1998 the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum was named by the History Channel Traveler website as one of the “Top-Ten Historic Sites for Valentine’s Day” that “capture romance, American-style.”

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