Magic Town - Atlas Obscura

Magic Town

Experience life in one of America’s smallest neighborhoods. 


Old Colorado City, now a part of Colorado Springs, is an extremely vibrant place. The streets are lined with all the staples of American tourist towns. There is even a city within the city: Magic Town, a detailed miniature city at a 1:6 scale. It is not an idealized vision of life—there is plenty of trash on the streets, and the homes of the people are a bit cluttered. It is beautiful in its grittiness, a glimpse into a lively piece of Americana.

The artist behind this city, Michael Garman, was born in Texas in 1938. After graduating high school, he vagabonded through Latin America, eventually ending up in Santiago, Chile. After talking his way into a free entrance into the local school of fine arts, he began designing little sculptures. Over the years, he gained more and more recognition for his work, even making it into the collections of famous personalities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Elway, and Ronald Reagan.

While Garman loved his work, he hated selling off his creations. He poured his soul into each character and felt he lost a piece of himself every time he parted with one. So, he devised a way to give his little friends a home. In 1975, he began working on his masterpiece: Magic Town, a 3,000 square foot miniature city where his best creations could live together.

While the town and people may be artificial, it does not feel lifeless. Mirrors provide glimpses into side alleys, and trick lighting effects cause the scenes inside the rooms to change when you aren’t looking. Some places feature holograms where residents talk about their lives. Some characters around the town are recurring, and a few are based on people from Garman’s personal life. There is even a depiction of Garman himself, working away on an even smaller model.

To encourage thorough exploration, the gallery offers randomized scavenger hunts, prompting visitors to scour the city for specific items and trivia. You may be asked to identify the name of the local piano teacher or to find the location of the tiny birdcage. The reward is a small piece of candy and the feeling that you truly experienced this little microcosm for yourself.

Know Before You Go

There is a store in the front of the museum selling reproductions of Garman’s work.

Admission to the museum costs $7.50 for adults, with discounts for children, seniors, military, and first responders. The museum is open daily from 10 am to 5:30 pm, except on a few major holidays. Check the website for the most current information.

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March 7, 2024

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