Looking at Pat Acton’s take on the White City of Gondor approximates the view from the back of an approaching eagle – or, perhaps, a really high catapult-flung projectile. Pat worked for three years building his own personal bigature of Minas Tirith out of 420,000 matchsticks, and it looks amazing: the tiers, watchtowers and gates, the tunnels that weave in and out of the structure, connecting, with every stair step visible and sturdy.
Though Minas Tirith was also on display at the Iowa State Fair this year, some friends and I saw it at the Matchstick Marvels museum in Gladbrook (population: approx. 1,000 people). Connected to the local movie theater and built and maintained by volunteers from the community, the museum currently houses 18 of Pat’s intricate creations, including the U.S. Capitol (498,000 matchsticks), the nursery rhyme’s crooked old man with the crooked cat in the crooked old house (300,000), a brontosaurus (18,000), and the iconic whiskey-bottle-adorning clipper ship the Cutty Sark (38,000). I recently posted a few pictures of them to my Flickr page.
Unfortunately for the Midwest, the true victor of the Battle of Pelannor Fields was apparently Spain. Minas Tirith will leave Gladbrook after next Tuesday to join Pat’s tactile vision of Hogwarts (602,000 matchsticks) on the island of Mallorca. Gondorian architecture replications or no, however, the museum is a genuinely impressive collection of locally-made art out in the Iowan countryside. Friendly place, too.