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Monroeville Zombies Museum Shuts Down

on Fri, 04/19/2013 - 09:26

One fateful day in the early 1970s, Pittsburgh filmmaker George Romero visited Mark Mason, co-owner of Oxford Development Company, who Romero had met through a fellow Carnegie Mellon University alumnus. Oxford both owned and operated the Monroeville Mall, and Mason explained to Romero that the structure was honey-combed with multiple passages, making it the perfect place to hide-out during a natural disaster. Following the visit, Romero walked through the facility and noticed the blank faces and robotic-like movements of shoppers as they made their way from store to store. Romero had already found success—and reinvented the zombie-genre in the process—with his 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead, and immediately decided to transplant the narrative from a farmhouse in Evans City to the mall in Monroeville for his 1978 film Dawn of the Dead.

The above story is related on The Zombie Farm website, under a heading simply entitled “The Mall,” and within zombie lore, the Monroeville Mall is indeed iconic. In recognition of this fact, Time and Space Toys opened the Monroeville Zombies Museum in 2008, celebrating not only the groundbreaking works of George Romero but zombies in general. Over the course of five years, Monroeville Zombies stood as a testament to the “walking dead,” with displays of various props and memorabilia from Dawn of the Dead, a celebrity “Maul of Fame” and life-size replicas of many famous zombies from the realms of pop culture. Like all good things, however, the Monroeville Zombies exhibit must come to an end as their Facebook page announced in early April 2013 that mall management had found a new tenant for the space and that the current museum would be closing at the end of the month.

“Since we announced the move, I’ve been inundated with stories from fans of how they loved what we did there,” Monroeville Zombies president Kevin Kriess said in a press release. “I heard tales of couples getting engaged there, families making annual trips from across the world to visit, and movie fans praising our presentation of the mall’s history to the zombie genre. This is what made me want to have one last event, a huge gathering of all of our customers to stop by and tell us their personal stories of what the mall means to them. These I’ll take with me to our next chapter and build on that foundation.”

Although most of the exhibit in the museum has already been hauled away, Monroeville Zombies will indeed hold one last event—dubbed “Zom-B-Rama III ‘That’s M’all Folks’”—in its space at the Monroeville Mall. Scheduled for April 27th, it is the third installment of their popular Zom-B-Rama, which features zombie-themed costume contests, music and movie screenings. Kevin Kriess does hope to reopen the museum at a different location at some point in the future, but there are no concrete plans at the moment.

“Yes, this is for real, we really are leaving the mall,” the Monroeville Zombies Facebook page states. “It is a truly sad day for all of us involved with this endeavor for the last five years. But it is not the true end, as we will be back in another format soon.”

Spoken like a true zombie fan.

Anthony Letizia (April 19, 2013)

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