Did you know the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures is located right here in the Heart of America? The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, located close to UMKC’s campus, is also home to one of the largest collections of historic toys in the country. Let’s take a look at how this larger-than-life dollhouse became a home for trinkets so small.
The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures opened in 1982 as the Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City. The museum was (and still is) housed in the historic Tureman Mansion, which was the home of Dr. Herbert Tureman + his wife, Marie. Close friends Mary Harris Francis + Barbara Marshall pooled their collection to start the museum. Mary donated her old toys that she collected as a hobby while Barbara, who worked in Hallmark’s art department, commissioned handcrafted miniatures from professional artists.
The museum initially started out as 7,500 sqft, but expansions that took place in 1989 and 2004 nearly quintupled the size. The most recent expansion happened in 2015, where an 18-month renovation added new interactive exhibits + artifacts. The spot also officially changed its name to The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.
Today, the spot holds miniatures scaled one inch to every foot of room settings, architectural structures, and decorative arts, including an Italian Renaissance studio and a Boston Hill mansion. Toys from the 18th century can also be seen on display — from dolls + dollhouses to STEM toys. The entire collection has 84,000+ objects, the oldest doll being Georgiana, an English wooden doll circa 1750 that has a wig made from human hair. Seasonal exhibits also take place at the museum, with current and past ones updated on its website.