Thal, Austria: The Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum!

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In what may be a refreshing change for some of you, I’ve finally visited a museum with no historical pretensions whatsoever.  The Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum, aka, “Arnie’s Life,” was an unadulterated guilty pleasure, the sort you have to allow yourself on holiday (like eating at least two ice creams a day, and allowing myself to buy a Marie Claire to read on the airplane, despite the fact that it is probably the worst magazine ever, except for maybe Cosmo).

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When planning our trip to Ljubljana, I happened to notice that Graz, Austria, was only about a two hour drive away.  Now I’ve been wanting to visit Graz for a while on account of the Armoury there (which I’ll cover in a future post), but more importantly, Graz is also very near to Arnold’s Museum.  The village of Thal is in a picturesque corner of Austria, full of dandelion-dimpled meadows that one could easily imagine Julie Andrews (or as I like to think, maybe even a young Arnie) twirling around in whilst bursting into song.  Though Thal is only a few miles outside of Graz, there are virtually no signs to it until you’re well out of the city, and as we belatedly realised our GPS didn’t have a map of Austria on it, we had a heck of a time finding it.  We only got there in the end because my boyfriend had the foresight to download directions onto his phone before we left, but we still took a number of wrong turns on the way.  Basically what I’m saying is if you want to come here, have a functioning GPS, or else a passenger who is less hopeless with directions than I am.

Arnie's childhood bed. According to him, this is the most important object in the museum.

Arnie’s childhood bed. According to him, this is the most important object in the museum.

I should mention that I don’t really have any particular fondness for Arnold as either a person, or an actor.  I’m not really into action films, with the exception of Indiana Jones (because c’mon, Indy is hot) so I’ve only seen a handful of his movies.  However, my father and brother are both into body building, and my mom has a major crush on Arnold, so we always had some of his books hanging around the house, and I consequently grew up knowing more about him than I probably should.  Aside from that, whatever you think of him, Arnold is undeniably quite a personality, and there was no way I could resist visiting his house for the cheesiness factor alone.

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Apparently I make a disgusting face when flexing my huge muscles.

So, all that being said, when we finally located the museum, I enthusiastically bounded out of the car and raced up to the statue of Arnold outside, only too happy to pose for a picture with my hand on his heavily muscled thigh.  Admission was 6 euros, and the woman working there was of course fluent in English, so there’s no need to worry about that sort of thing.  Since the museum is in his actual childhood home, it is rather small; only about five rooms.  They recommend that you start out in the room devoted to his childhood, and then progress through the upstairs rooms, ending in the “Governor” room on the ground floor.

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As you might expect, the museum was largely graphic in nature (in the sense that there were a lot of posters and photographs, NOT that it was sexually explicit), with accompanying facts about Arnold’s life in both English and German.  Actually, the museum was home to some real gems of posters, as seen below.

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We wanted to buy a copy of them to take home, but unfortunately the only posters on offer were movie-related ones.  There were also lots of great photos of Arnie as a child and young man (he was actually a fine looking lad), including many of him posing in various states of undress, though he always at least kept on a skimpy mankini (which may disappoint a certain segment of his fanbase).

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I was actually quite interested to learn that his father disapproved of his weight lifting, so he was only permitted to go to the gym three times a week, but kept up his workouts at home whilst listening to his neighbour practice the trumpet.  Because of this, the upstairs rooms had some of his original weights and other apparatuses on display.  The way you were meant to progress through the museum would take you through “Arnie’s Life” chronologically, so you got to view his childhood kitchen and (excitingly) toilet before learning about the body building years, and then his acting career.

Wooden toilet actually used by Arnold.  Unfortunately, you are not allowed to plant your buttocks where his powerful glutes once perched.

Wooden toilet actually used by Arnold. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to plant your buttocks where his powerful glutes once perched.

The movie bit was more or less what you’d expect.  Some memorabilia, a few videos, various correspondence between Arnold and the museum, and thank you notes to people who had given him gifts, including an excellent Austrian style motorcycle jacket which he later donated to the museum.  There was also an Xbox set up with what I believe was a Terminator game in it (it was hard to tell as I spent the entire time just running into a wall.  I am amazing at SNES, but with any system after that, especially ones with those stupid joysticks and all the buttons, I am a huge pile of suck), presumably to keep the children entertained whilst their fathers gawped at all the Arnold accessories.

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My favourite part of the museum was all the wax figures (of varying quality) of Arnie, and I got my picture taken with every last one of them.  The one with the worst toupee was probably the one in the “Governor” room at the end, which was also rife with Arnold propaganda, and some pretty neat objects, including his “Governator” cowboy boots and jacket

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I mean, essentially the whole museum was just an exercise in self-promotion, though I’m not really sure what political aspirations, if any, Arnold has left at this point.  In fact, as far as merchandising goes, I think the museum is missing a trick, since the gift shop was limited to a small selection of posters and books, and only one t-shirt design.  I know my whole family would have been thrilled to receive t-shirts, but as they only had one size available, I guess it goes to whomever it fits.  I’m not saying they should turn the entire thing into a huge shop, but maybe at least have a t-shirt for women as well, and a better poster selection.

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Or will I…?

I think I have to take this museum at face value.  You won’t be particularly intellectually challenged, or learn any amazing revelations about Arnold’s life, but you will enjoy yourself.  We certainly didn’t regret visiting at all, even with the hassle of finding the place.  Therefore, I’m going to give it a 4/5.  Arnie’s Life gives the people what they want, assuming what they want is a whole hell of a lot of Schwarzeneggery goodness.

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22 comments

    1. Of course you can (despite my slightly derpy expression); I’d be grateful for any extra traffic it throws my way! Had I known, I’d have painted my toenails a nicer colour, though it’s probably Arnie’s feet you’re after!

  1. It’s posted now. And we couldn’t resist posting a second shot because that post is just too darn good. Thanks so much, we really appreciate it! 🙂

  2. Totally hilarious! I’m into body building a bit and I like Arnold despite his human flaws. I met him once, more like saw him, when he was still competing, I think. One of his legs was as big as me.

    You have good muscles! But your writing muscles are even better. 🙂

    1. Thank you for all the lovely compliments! I’m jealous that you saw the actual Arnie (though perhaps he can’t be persuaded to pose as convincingly as the wax version); my brother goes to the Arnold Classic every year (not to compete, just to watch – he’s muscley, but not THAT muscley), but he hasn’t had the privilege of meeting Arnold yet!

      1. Yes, it was kind of a fluke really. I was a kid and he was in Squaw Valley to ski. I was in the candy store in the lodge and the rumor that he was about spread throughout the whole lodge. Someone ran with the message to the candy store and I darted out to see and came within a few feet. So, it’s a stretch to say I met him. My mom did, though, when she was helping at the Special Olympics. She said he was really nice. Definitely a bigger than life personality. It would be fun to go to the Arnold Classic! But I think I’d rather go to a female competition. I dream of competing but I don’t have what it takes, really. Just a dream. So your brother sets a good example, work out and then just go to competitions to observe! Because the real goal is just fitness, not really posing and getting down to single digit body fat.

  3. I like everything you wrote, except for one thing. I think this museum has historical pretensions, but it might not realize it. It’s preserving for future generations the icon of 80’s action and blockbusters.

    How else are people in fifty years going to understand when Arnold says in Conan the Barbarian that the best things in life are, “to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women”? Isn’t that just a different version of Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” speech in Wall Street?

    I’m just kidding. Great post. You make me want to visit Arnie’s museum.

    1. This post is ancient, but it has always remained my most popular! I wouldn’t actually say I’m getting a bigger audience though, in fact, my number of views dropped by almost a quarter in 2016 vs 2015, but it’s nice of you to support me. I’m only a little fish compared to you!

      1. Haha that’s because it is such a cool museum and it’s a great post! Hmm fair enough, but I would say that you have a much more active audience than I do. Besides it isn’t getting visitors that counts but the people enjoying and learning from what you are creating. And your site is doing a great job of that. (As well as unearthing treasures such as the Arnie museum!).

      2. Well, thank you kindly. (I’d insert a little blushing smiley if I knew how to do so.) I am happy if people come here and learn something and discover somewhere awesome to go that they wouldn’t have known about otherwise, though of course it would always be nice to have a larger audience too!

      3. I ‘m sure they do, I certainly learn when I read your latest updates. The audience will come in time, my own audience has dropped as well since I stopped writing the skeletal series but I’m enjoying writing more random entries at the minute! My site is always open for another Diverting Journeys guest post should you ever feel the need.

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