Nutcracker Museum

Bavarian Leavenworth, Washington

History of the Museum

The museum opened its doors in 1995 as a private showing of the immense nutcracker collection of George and Arlene Wagner, and soon after that a Washington State non-profit corporation was formed.

The museum started with just a shop space on the second level of a commercial building occupied by two other independent businesses. In 2003 the museum was enlarged to encompass the complete second floor of the building, approximately 3,000 square feet, and at that time a lift was installed to accommodate handicapped visitors.

In 2006, The Leavenworth Nutcracker museum received IRS 501(c)3 non-profit status with the donation of the Wagner’s nutcracker collection and ownership of the entire building in which it was housed. Since this time, many collectors who were searching for a permanent home for their treasured nutcrackers, have donated them to the museum for people to enjoy. This has contributed in making this one of the largest collection of nut cracking devices in the world.

Retail space and third floor apartments provides for the upkeep of the building, and the general maintenance of the museum, salaries, insurance, etc. Donations are needed for educational projects and the continued search for new specimens. The museum sponsors the Leavenworth Ale-Fest in April of each year which also helps to provide income for the museum. Entrance fees to the museum provide additional income. No admission is charged for children 5 and under or to active military and their immediate families.

The museum opened a small gift shop in 2011 to bring in additional revenue. Most of the items being sold have been donated by people downsizing their collections or from families of deceased collectors. When nutcrackers are donated, those not used for museum displays are sold in the gift shop with proceeds to help support the museum. Tax deductible forms are provided for large donations.

The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum has enjoyed positive comments from segments on Arts & Entertainment, CBS Sunday Morning, and the Food Network program "Nuts". Arlene Wagner appeared on "Conan" as the first guest on this new show. Magazines and newspapers both in the US and Germany have featured the museum in various articles.

Total yearly attendance has increased over the years from 4705 in 2005 to 14808 in 2016. To date, the museum has been visited by people from every state in the union and from every Canadian province. In addition, visitors signing our guestbook have come from 82 other foreign countries. Many groups have visited the museum including senior citizens, civic organizations, touring groups and school classes. Children and adults can participate in "nutcracker hunts" that have been developed for each age group.

The museum has produced a 14 minute video (DVD) of the history of nutcrackers which is shown to visitors as they arrive. Websites have been developed to give much information about the museum, the many different kinds of nutcrackers, and also the history and nutritional value of the nuts that are cracked. Websites and  and their Facebook companions are increasing in views each year.

Power point presentations have been given to various civic groups both in the US and in Germany. Displays have been sent to many US cities and to Hong Kong and Shanghai. The museum has hosted the Antique Nutcracker Collector Club convention three times bringing collectors from all over the US and from Germany, England and Lithuania.

A popular "Nutcracker Day in Leavenworth" is offered on the first Saturday of July, with prizes, special tours, and the opportunity to crack nuts with a variety of nut opening devices. A “Make Your Own Nutcracker” contest has been developed for students of three grade brackets with judging on Nutcracker Day. Many of the creative nut cracking devices that students made are on display in the museum.

Nutcracker Hunts”, the museum’s version of scavenger hunts, have been developed for all ages from 5 through adult. The museum has cooperated with The Leavenworth Echo to have a “Find Karl” contest in their annual Sonnenschein edition prepared for the many tourists who come to Leavenworth.

A high quality coffee table book, "The Art & Character of Nutcrackers", a prize winning publication, was produced in 2005. This book pictures over 1,000 nutcrackers from the museum showing the ingenuity of man in doing the simple task of opening a nutshell. The book shows the development of the nutcracker over thousands of years, from the nutting stone of the world’s early inhabitants to the ever popular wooden toy soldier nutcracker of today. There has been no other collectible or tool created that has shown such a wide diversity of materials, design, or mechanism. In 2014 "An Addendum to The Art & Character of Nutcrackers" was released with details of an additional 400 nutcrackers.

The museum also produced "I Love Nuts", a nut recipe book, and "The Nutcracker Lady's Introduction to Nutcrackers", especially written for older students or beginning adult nutcracker collectors. A young children's book "Kids Love Nutcrackers" followed. Most of these publications are still available for sale in the museum and online. CLICK HERE

Quick Links

Federal ID #91-2143303

A Non-Profit 501(c)3 Organization


Contact Us

735 Front Street
P.O. Box 2212
Leavenworth, WA 98826

(509) 548-4573

Open 7 Days a Week
1:00PM - 5:00PM

Nutcracker Museum Mission Statement:

"To foster and encourage the interest of the general public of the importance of nuts in the diets of humans throughout history and in the evolution of the nutcracker. No other tool or collectible has shown such a wide diversity of material and design as the implements used to crack the hard shell of a nut".

Museum Admission:

Adults  - $5.00  (Ages 17 - 64yrs)
Seniors - $3.50  (Age 65yrs +)
Youth   - $2.00  (Ages 6 - 16yrs)
Child    - FREE   (Ages 0 - 5yrs)
Military & Families - FREE