Toy and Miniature Museum in Kansas City

Acrylic and nut turnings by Marais Amshoff at the Toy & Miniature Museum in Kansas City
We just got back from Kansas City, and had a great time visiting with my brother and his family. We all had a ball on our little excursions around town, and our kids had some phenomenal moments with their two sweet cousins and some extended family (including the family dogs).

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Toy & Miniature Museum of Kansas City. Jamie Berry, the Director, graciously allowed me and my brother in early for a tour and the opportunity to take photos and learn more about this truly amazing collection from her dedicated and enthusiastic staff. This place is a gem, and I have a feeling that many folks do not even know the treasures that exist in this museum, which is situated in a lovely house on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. Founded in 1982 by two collectors, the Mary Harris Francis and Barbara Marshall, the museum is a testament to their love of collecting, and also highlights the talent of today's miniature artisans, as many of the works on display are custom pieces that date from the last 50 years. The collection is displayed in 33,000 square feet of gallery space and is installed in some thematic groupings, but is mainly laid out for maximum enjoyment, meandering, and of course, long, open-mouthed gazing.

I was in awe of the works and houses...I could not believe the quality and level of craftsmanship. Fair warning: my photos are not that great and they do not do the museum nor the collections justice! Many of the dramatically-lit displays are recessed in the walls behind plexi, so this does not make for great beauty shots. Please go visit the museum yourself if you can; it is definitely worth a few hours (or more) of your time.

I share some photos here, and created a Flickr album with many more -- check it out.

While there were not a lot of modern or midcentury miniatures on display, there were many things that caught my eye:

Some Vitra chairs near the front entrance


Lovely modern seating

One of my favorite rooms - a Deco delight!
Look at the gorgeous bath off the living area
An Art Nouveau-style vanity to die for...

A Macintosh chair and custom vases

Fifties kitchen furnishings

A violin in the making by Ken Manning

A dramatic "how-to" by miniaturist Bob Robertson

Working clock and tea set by Frank Matter:

Rows and rows of wood turnings and vessel creations in glass, ebony, and other materials:

A Frank Lloyd Wright interior, modeled on an actual private residence

Smaller scale wonders:

And a lovely silhouette picture

This does not even scratch the surface of the museum, which, you may have noticed, has "Toy" in its name. If I haven't tempted you to go already, upstairs from the miniatures one of the world's largest collection of marbles awaits, as well as an extensive selection of vintage and more contemporary toys and special exhibits, from Barbie to Star Wars:

Should you go to the museum in the future, please share your impressions. I hope to get back there myself soon!