Superman Museum in Cleveland, Ohio


The economies of both states and cities are dynamic and dependent on many factors. Thus, it is necessary to present new ideas for improvement periodically in order to meet the changing needs of people. In particular, at the moment, Cleveland needs to find new ways to transform and improve economic flow. Despite the development of industries such as banking, iron production, and motor vehicle manufacturing, more attention should be paid to tourism, as it is beneficial. Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has made its own adjustments to this industry. Experts expect the recovery of the pre-quarantine levels of the tourist flow only in 2023 (Richter). However, this situation is relevant only for international tourism, while domestic tourism can only benefit from the current events. With the inability to travel abroad due to restrictions or financial difficulties, people may make more choices to visit other cities and states in the US. Therefore, it is imperative to create a new tourist attraction in Cleveland, which could become the Superman Museum.

Historical Background

First of all, it is necessary to emphasize why Superman is important to Cleveland and how this hero can attract the attention of tourists. Writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster were the two people who invented and created Superman in 1933 (Superman). They both attended Glenvill High School, located in Cleveland, where they first met. Despite the widespread success of Superman among comic book fans and the numerous materials created with this character, Siegel and Shuster did not receive the fame they deserved. Superman’s creators initially entered the comic book business with other characters and stories, but in 1938, Clark Kent was bought by publisher Harry Donnenfeld for $ 135, after which he was introduced to the world (Superman). Thus, Siegel and Shuster lost all rights to their character and were forced to work exclusively for Donnenfeld for ten years for half of the net profit and $ 35 per page (Superman). After the end of the contract, the creators sued for the restoration of copyright but lost the case and received only compensation.

Without getting the recognition they deserve, the creators of the world’s most famous superhero have struggled with work and money. However, in 1975, under pressure from the public, Warner Communications, Inc. agreed to pay Siegel and Shuster $ 20,000 annually and include their names in all Superman materials (Superman). Thus, the creators of Superman did not receive the proper attention from the public throughout their lives, which makes the comic book hero even more important to the city from a social point of view.

Currently, the legacy of the creators of Superman in Cleveland is limited to the former Siegel’s house and route through all the famous points of the city associated with Superman (Herrmann). The house was renovated in 2009 by members of the local Siegel and Shuster Society, concerned with keeping Superman’s connection with the city. The Society “is dedicated to calling attention to the remarkable events that started with an idea in the minds of two teenagers” (About Siegel & Shuster Society). The organization is a non-profit and is based on volunteer work to preserve the legacy of Superman’s creators in Cleveland. The money for the restoration was raised through a fundraising auction. Another goal of the Society was to organize a permanent exhibition at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Additionally, there is a shop in the city that “sells memorabilia alongside graphic novels, comics, and other ephemera” (Herrmann). However, these activities are of an exclusively public nature and need support from the state. Superman as a Siegel and Shuster legacy could become a symbol of Cleveland and attract tourists from all over the country.

Tourism and Culture

The creation of the Superman Museum in Cleveland is a promising idea due to the availability of public support and initiatives that could help in development and promotion. The Siegel and Shuster Society and the state government can work together to attract tourism. This idea is also supported by statistics on the constantly growing level of tourism in the region and the city. According to Destination Cleveland, regional tourism bureau, “2017 marks the eighth year in a row that visitor growth in Cleveland surpassed visitor growth to the United States as a whole” (Glaser, “Greater Cleveland Attracts 18.5 Million”). This trend continued into 2018, claiming Cleveland as a “branded product” (Glaser, “Greater Cleaveland Attracted a Record”). Thus, despite the decline in the total number of tourists during the pandemic, Cleveland is a promising destination for increasing tourist flow.

The Superman Museum can play a key role in further developing the region’s tourism brand and maintaining its historical identity. Moreover, in the modern world, more and more people are paying attention to pop culture, and it is becoming a part of society. Cleveland already has the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which makes it an important city in terms of rock culture, which necessitates development in other cultural directions. Cleveland is directly linked to Superman’s creation story, making it part of a legacy to be told about.

Super Museum in Illinois

In the city of Metropolis, Illinois, there is already a Super Museum dedicated to the superhero. It opened in 1993 and is located in the city that is the hometown of Superman in the comics (Super Museum). The museum has over 70,000 Superman-related items collected by enthusiast Jim Hambrick (Super Museum). However, this museum is solely an aspiration of fans to express their love for the superhero and the materials dedicated to him. The Superman Museum in Cleveland should focus on other aspects, including the story of the hero’s creation, as well as the life of Siegel and Shuster. This initiative should be aimed at affirming Superman’s historical connection with the city and be a part of its legacy. Moreover, two museums do not have to compete; they can be partners and complement each other in terms of the composition of the exposition.

Superman Museum as an Entertainment Cluster

In addition to the Super Museum in Illinois, Cleveland itself already has a solid structure for a museum. A tourist route through the points of the city connected with Superman can become part of the exposition and be offered as an excursion. The gift shop can also be incorporated into the museum, as can the permanent exhibition at the airport. Additionally, the Superman Museum may seek assistance directly from DC Comics for support, possibly not financial, but promotional. Jim Hambrick notes that his exhibit in Metropolis was supported and recommended by DC Comics, which significantly boosted the development of the museum (Super Museum). The Superman Museum in Cleveland can be greeted with less enthusiasm, as it aims to tell a true story rather than praise a superhero. However, since DC Comics and Warner have recognized the creators in the past, they may be interested in keeping their memories alive in Cleveland and emphasizing their gratitude for Siegel and Shuster’s work.

With the support of the state, DC Comics, and local volunteers, the museum still needs financial resources. First of all, the exposition must be located in a building, the rent of which must be paid. There is a possibility that the state or city government will allocate a separate building for the Superman Museum, but this requires the initiative to be submitted for public comment. Thus, it is necessary to develop a detailed plan for the establishment of the museum and draw public attention to the importance of the establishment. However, in this aspect, it is the Siegel and Shuster Society, which has already achieved significant success in preserving the memory of Superman’s creators, that can play a great role.

Over the long years of its existence, the Society has managed to draw attention to the problem of heritage preservation, but it needs more financial support. Fundraising campaigns may form part of the Superman Museum’s financial resources but may not cover all costs. One of the possible solutions is to appeal to private investors, who can either offer part of their collection for display or financial assistance (Hunter). A certain part of the funding can be public and come from the regional and federal budgets, but for this, the museum must first establish itself as useful for society and tourism. Therefore, initial funding must be obtained from individuals and organizations interested in preserving the history of Superman’s creation in Cleveland. Achieving this goal requires consolidation of efforts at the national level, communication with various societies and fans.

Funding for the further existence of a museum after its creation can also be conducted by earning money from the activities of the institution. Zarobell notes that “revenue comes primarily either from public or private sources, but museums also derive income from shops and restaurants, as well as from reproduction services and private rentals for special events” (40). Thus, in the Superman Museum, it is necessary to create a special environment not only with an exposition dedicated to history but also a number of additional entertainment options. The museum should become an ecosystem in which the visitor could completely immerse himself in the world of the superhero and his creators.

In addition to the tourist route to significant places in the city and the gift shop, it is necessary to organize theme cafes and workshops. Additionally, the museum can become a center of attraction for all Superman fans of the country and even the world. Within the framework of the institution, meetings with representatives of the industry, as well as various events related to comics and superheroes, can be held. The Superman Museum in Cleveland should be more than an exhibition, becoming an entertainment cluster that can support itself and set trends on its own. This approach will allow the Superman Museum in Cleveland not to need funding from a city or state but to generate income to develop the economy and attract tourist flow.


Cleveland is home to Superman, but the story of his creators is often unknown to the general public. The creation of the Superman Museum, which would focus directly on the superhero’s connection to the city and his origins, could have a significant positive impact on the region’s tourist flow. However, this initiative requires the consolidation of the efforts of public organizations, fans, and the government. The creation of a museum and entertainment cluster associated with Superman in Cleveland is promising not only in terms of financial benefits but also the preservation of the historical heritage of the city.


“About Siegel & Shuster Society.” The Siegel & Shuster Society. n.d. Web.

Glaser, Susan. “Greater Cleveland Attracts 18.5 Million Visitors in 2017, Another Record.”, 2018. Web.

Glaser, Susan. “Greater Cleveland Attracted a Record 19.2 Million Visitors in 2018, Outpacing Ohio and US Growth.”, 2019. Web.

Herrmann, Michaele. “Made in Cleveland: Superman May Be the ‘Man of Steel,’ But He Has Rust Belt Roots.” RoadTrippers, 2020. Web.

Hunter, Timothy. “Could the art-finance industry offer museums some much-needed options?” Apollo, 2018. Web.

Richter, Felix. “Tourism Industry Experts Fear Long Road to Recovery.” World Economic Forum, 2021. Web.

“Superman.” Case Western Reserve University. n.d. Web.

“Super Museum.” n.d. Web.

Zarobell, John. Art and the Global Economy. University of California Press, 2017.

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