If you are a fan of Star Wars, and even if you are not, you are familiar with all the merchandising that surrounded the blockbuster hits beginning in 1977. From the action figures, bed sheets, lunch boxes and toys found in kids meals at popular fast food restaurants, Star Wars probably has one of the largest amounts of merchandise available for fans to collect.
Steve Sansweet is recorded in Guinness Book of Records as having the largest privately owned Star Wars collection. In September 2013, Steve’s collections was estimated with 300,000 pieces. Prior to his retirement in April 2011, Steve was the Director of Content Management and head of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm Ltd. for 15 years, and remains Fan Relations Advisor for the company. He is author or co-author of eighteen books, sixteen of them about Star Wars.
Rancho Obi-Wan is a museum that contains the world’s largest privately-owned Star Wars collection. The collection was amassed over 37 years by Steve. Rancho Obi-Wan is housed on private property in rural Sonoma county just outside Petaluma, California. The 9,000-square-foot museum building was once home to over 20,000 chickens during Petaluma’s egg-producing heyday.
Rancho Obi-Wan was originally established in 1998 after Steve moved from Los Angeles to become Director of Content Management and head of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm. The first “Rancho Obi-Wan” was one of three old hen houses on the property. After an extensive renovation Steve had plenty of space to display his collection with room to grow. During this time, Steve showed his collection only to friends and colleagues.
Steve retired from Lucasfilm as a full-time employee in April, 2011, after 15 years. At the same time, after three new movies and
eight Star Wars Celebration conventions, the collection had outgrown its original space. An expansion project incorporated a second hen house into the museum and reorganized the entire collection into a space that could be shared with fellow fans and collectors from around the world.
In October, 2011, Rancho Obi-Wan, Inc., was founded as a California nonprofit public benefit corporation to manage the collection. It serves the public through the collection, conservation, exhibition and interpretation of Star Wars memorabilia and artifacts, using the collection to provide meaningful educational, aesthetic, intellectual and cultural experiences to a wide array of audiences and to carry out other charitable and educational activities associated with this goal.
As a publicly supported, federally recognized charity, Rancho Obi-Wan’s mission is to inspire! Star Wars has transformed our own lives. We hope to further inspire others by giving guided tours of the private collection in Petaluma, traveling to conventions with carefully curated displays, supporting other organizations in their charitable efforts, and reaching out to children (and adults) of all ages.
You can find out more about Rancho Obi-Wan at their website http://www.ranchoobiwan.org/
***All the photos in this post are from http://www.ranchoobiwan.org/ and do not belong to The Main Street Mouse in any way.