‘Stan Lee: Beyond the Book’ Exhibition Opens At UW American Heritage Center May 1

man gesturing to rows of boxes on shelves
In this file photo, Stan Lee, the legendary comics creator, author, editor and Marvel visionary, stands with boxes of his papers that are stored in the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center (AHC). To honor Lee’s life, a “Stan Lee: Beyond the Book” exhibition opens Wednesday, May 1, and runs through late October at the AHC. (UW AHC Photo)

The highly anticipated “Stan Lee: Beyond the Book” exhibition opens Wednesday, May 1, and runs through late October at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center (AHC). The exhibition honors the legendary comics creator, author, editor and Marvel visionary.

The immersive exhibition provides visitors with an intimate glimpse into the extraordinary life and enduring legacy of Lee, and offers a firsthand look at his remarkable life on popular culture, from comic books to film and television.

“Stan Lee, Beyond the Book” will reveal Lee the person, from his childhood to his later years. Displays explore Lee’s impact on the comic book industry; relations with his fans; the creative processes he and his teams followed; development of comic book characters; his involvement in social and political issues; personal memorabilia; and other aspects of his life, vision and career.

“Stan Lee’s legacy is not only in the stories he told, but in the imagination and inspiration he ignited in countless individuals,” says Professor Paul Flesher, the AHC’s director. “We are honored to share his remarkable journey and achievements through this exciting exhibition.”

Although Lee’s story cannot be told without the characters he created -- from Spiderman to the X-Men, from the Hulk to Ms. Marvel -- this is neither a comic book exhibition nor a Marvel film exhibition, Flesher says. The focus is on Lee himself.

“The Stan Lee papers are a prized collection at the AHC,” Flesher says. “For decades, Stan regularly sent materials to the AHC for preservation, providing an ongoing record of his development as an individual, a writer and an artist, an entertainer and a businessman.”

man smiling with chin on hand
Stan Lee

One of the exhibition’s most exciting elements is the revelation of the long-lost “first” script for a Spiderman film. Rumors, over the years, indicated that Lee had written a Spiderman film on notecards, but no one knew where they were.

“It can now be revealed that more than 100 cards from the script are here, locked up in the AHC vaults -- and the exhibition provides the first look at some of them,” Flesher says.

Lee began a relationship with the AHC more than 45 years ago in 1977. The relationship was personal and, for the next 30 years, he corresponded regularly with AHC directors and even visited the UW campus. Even though he never earned a college degree, he called UW “my university” because of this connection. His donations now constitute a unique collection, consisting of 126 cubic feet of materials in the AHC.

The exhibition itself is drawn from the AHC’s “Stan Lee Papers” collection. Researched and curated by three UW students -- Laramie’s Hazel Homer-Wambeam; Liam Leslie, from Cheyenne; and Rhiannon McLean, of Casper -- it provides the first deep dive into the collection. It displays drawings, documents, photographs and artifacts that have not been preserved elsewhere.

“The “Stan Lee, Beyond the Book” exhibition invites visitors to explore the life, work and enduring legacy of a true visionary,” Flesher says.

For more information about the exhibition and related events, visit the AHC website at www.uwyo.edu/ahc/exhibits.html or email the AHC at ahcref@uwyo.edu

The AHC is located at 2221 Willett Drive, UW’s Centennial Complex, in Laramie. The exhibitions hours are Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

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