Big Fun at The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures


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Relive your childhood at this unique Missouri museum.
Author: Stephen Foutes
Come for the toys, prepare to be wowed by the miniatures.

That’s perhaps the best way to describe a visit to The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, a unique museum on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

When you walk in, your eyes are immediately drawn to a rotating, multi-level display (dubbed The Toytisserie) showcasing all manner of toys, from Batman action figures to pieces of board games – and those oft-misplaced treasures from Happy Meals.

However, the museum’s first level is dedicated to its collection of miniatures, which, despite their small size, are truly eye-popping and amazing. Pay special attention to things like the 1/48th scale grandfather clock and other miniatures with working components.

Perhaps the most interesting micro-curiosities are those that require a magnifying glass to see. Among them, two “dressed” fleas. Yes, fleas.

Your tour includes the opportunity to see the tools miniature makers use, while the exhibits help you gain an understanding of the craft. After all, you’d think creating pieces no larger than a pinky finger makes for quick work. You’ be wrong.

The artists who dedicate themselves to miniatures often spend years making one piece. It’s a fascinating art and one for which you’ll have a better appreciation after your visit.

Okay, on to the toys.

This section of the museum really is a trip down memory lane, no matter how long ago your particular lane was paved.

If you’ve lost your marbles, the museum has found them. If you spent hours playing with cowboy dolls, you’ll be roped in by the exhibits. If you spent hours fussing over Barbie’s hair, you’ll probably reach for your brush.

The show-stopping part of the toy gallery features samples of toys grouped by their generations. So, for you children of the 1980s, for example, you’ll see He-Man action figures grouped with things like Teddy Ruxpin – the wide-eyed teddy bear who could read.

Also upstairs you’ll find a collection of toys from the Victorian era. If you’re creeped out by movies like “The Conjuring” and “Annabelle,” you may choose to skip this section. If you do, you’ll miss an interesting piece: a doll with moving parts that could be wound up and swim when used in the water.

A recent renovation modernized The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, which has been part of Kansas City’s cultural scene since the early 1980s and should be added to your must-see list when you Visit KC.

  The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
See the world's largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and one of the nation's largest collections ...