A few weeks ago I had a show near Graz (in Styria, Austria), the town where Arnold grew up, and used the opportunity to visit the Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum with a friend of mine.
I had wanted to visit this museum ever since I knew it existed, which is at least since Arnold's 50th birthday, when it was mentioned during an extra on TV. At that time it was still inside a stadium in Graz. Only quite recently the museum moved to Arnold's actual birthplace on the outskirts of Graz, the house where he lived until he left for the big world.
This makes a visit to it all the more fascinating, as you become aware that you actually step into the house where Arnold lived at a time when nobody could foresee the flamboyant career he would make.
Driving up to the museum foreshadows the colourful mixture of boisterousness, overstatement, and irony Schwarzenegger personified throughout his career. Six miles outside of the town centre of Graz you get the feeling you are in the middle of nowhere. Then the SatNav tells you to turn right into a narrow road (a tiny sign lets you know you are getting closer to the museum here), and finally you encounter a few modest houses again.
Then - this must be it: the only house in the neighbourhood which is freshly painted. And besides, who else would have an oversized bronze-statue of a posing bodybuilder with a hardly perceptible posing slip in his garden, and a huge American flag on his parking lot in front of the house around here?
The museum is small but fun. I don't want to give away too much here (although there isn't that much to give away), but the four rooms you can enter track Arnold's life from childhood and youth, bodybuilding career, acting career, to political career. It is filled with photos of Arnold, letters from Arnold, poster of Arnold, and, at times, bizarre paintings of Arnold. The more interesting objects are original training equipment used by Arnold, a piece of the original Mr. Freeze costume from Batman & Robin, and the original bed in which Arnold slept when he was young, with a nice inspiring anecdote to it.
What wasn't a highlight to me although the friendly lady behind the counter treated it as one, was the pit toilet. So I got a chance to see the place where Arnold, erm, did his business during his early years. Wow.
Several such aspects of the museum are like Arnold himself: you are never sure whether he is actually serious about this or whether he is fooling us all - such as his motorcycle boots with a large "Governor of California" patch on them.
I'm not sure whether the museum is worth travelling around the world to visit it.
But if you are an Arnold fan and happen to be near Graz in Austria, I guess it's worth a visit. The entry fee is fair (EUR 5,00), and you will leave at least with a smile and some inspiration.
Maybe even with an Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum bumper sticker: