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James Dean Museum in Indiana Closes

Updated:
GAS CITY, Ind. (AP) _ The museum chronicling the short life of James Dean has closed after struggling financially since its opening in 2004.

David Loehr, owner of the James Dean Gallery, announced in December that he planned to close the museum, but an outpouring of contributions led him to give it another try.

It ultimately shut down at the end of February, though, and Loehr has packed up and placed the memorabilia in storage.

``It was a real asset to the county and state, but I just couldn't keep it going,'' he told the Chronicle-Tribune of Marion for Thursday's editions. ``It's time to move on to the next thing.''

Loehr said he would soon be setting up a small display in the National Automotive & Truck Museum in Auburn.

That display, however, will not compare to the tribute Loehr had in the 7,000-square-foot gallery building. Only 25 percent of what was on display in Gas City will be showcased, he said.

He also would like to place some of his collection at the old Fairmount High School, where Dean graduated in 1949, if a renovation effort there succeeds.

Loehr said he plans to continue operating the gallery's Web site and Rebel, Rebel _ his memorabilia store in Fairmount.

Efforts to capitalize on Dean's ties to the Grant County area have been mixed.

The annual James Dean Festival in Fairmount draws large crowds each fall, but a special weekend event held last June in Marion to mark the 50th anniversary of the actor's death drew just 6,000 people _ a fraction of the 100,000 fans organizers expected.

Dean was 24 and had hit it big with starring roles in ``East of Eden,'' ``Rebel Without a Cause'' and ``Giant,'' which had just wrapped filming, when a station wagon collided with his vehicle near rural Cholame, Calif., on Sept. 30, 1955. Dean died instantly.
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