The National Hobo Museum began as the dream of 3 life-long hobos and former Hobo Kings. Determined to preserve the history of the American Hobo, these men formed the Hobo Foundation in the mid-1970s. The foundation, made up of hobos and residents of Britt, Iowa – home of the National Hobo Convention since 1900 – tasked themselves with ensuring that the stories of the American Hobo and Britt Hobo Days would be told for generations to come.
The reality of the museum took hold in the early 1980s with a single box of artifacts and a gift of money from an unknown hobo. The generous monetary donation was used to purchase the former Chief Movie Theatre on Britt’s Main Street. With a permanent home for a museum, artifacts were gathered from all over the world – donated by former Hobo Kings & Queens, collectors, and the families of hobos who had “caught the Westbound.”
Today the National Hobo Museum is owned and operated by the Britt Hobo Days Association, a non-profit group dedicated to hosting the annual National Hobo Convention and preserving the history of the life and times of the American Hobo. The museum boasts a vast collection of authentic artifacts, memorabilia, paintings, photographs and much more. Additionally, the collection tells the century long story of the National Hobo Convention and showcases personal collections of many of the more notable American hobos including Steam Train Maury, the Pennsylvania Kid, Connecticut Slim, the Hard Rock Kid, Frisco Jack and others.
The museum also features a small theatre where documentaries on the hobo lifestyle may be viewed, a large archive of written documents and audio recordings, and a gift shop featuring a wide variety of souvenirs including: t-shirts, postcards, walking sticks, books, CDs, authentic hobo-made crafts, and more.
Memorial Day thru Labor Day
Monday – Friday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturdays: 9:00 am – Noon
While in Britt, you can take in other hobo attractions by visiting the Queen’s Garden across from the Hobo Museum, the National Hobo Cemetery in the Northeast corner of Evergreen Cemetery, and the Hobo Jungle complete with boxcar located a block off Main Street on Diagonal.