National Museum of Toys and Miniatures’s (T/m) mission is to educate, inspire
and delight adults and children through the museum's collection and
preservation of toys and miniatures. T/m exhibits and preserves one of the
largest toy collections on public display in the United States and the largest
fine-scale miniature collection in the world.
At a time when museums housing collections of our type are closing nationwide, we are working to improve our interpretation and education to share the history of the common experience of playing with toys and the growing art form of fine-scale miniatures with a local and national audience. The museum is a portal to the past, a chronicle of the ways that our imaginations have served us over time. Children of all ages at all income levels have engaged in play across generations; the museum is a place for visitors to find common ground across generations, genders, and lifestyles. Our collection invites reminiscing, analysis and discussion; it is a vehicle for building connections.
The Toy and Miniature Museum opened in 1982. The museum started
with 7,000 square feet of exhibit space and two full-time staff in the
former Tureman Mansion, leased from the University of Missouri - Kansas City.
In 1985 the museum's founders Mary Harris Francis and Barbara Marshall formed
the Toy and Miniature Museum Foundation, donated their personal collections,
and undertook a major fundraising effort to build an addition onto the original
building. After the long-term loan of an extensive marble collection in 2004, a
second addition added 12,000 square feet. In 2014, the museum became The
National Museum of Toys and Miniatures and began a major renovation to improve
the museum climate and reallocate the building’s existing square footage to
better serve the needs of the collection and visitors. Before renovation, the
museum had 33,000 square feet of exhibit space with an annual attendance
of approximately 25,000 visitors.
T/m’s toy collection is broad in scope, and the sheer volume of materials makes it one of the largest museum toy collections in the United States. The collection is particularly strong in dollhouses, dolls, transportation toys, stuffed animals, housekeeping toys, and toy shops and kitchens from 1870 to 1930.
The museum’s collection of fine-scale contemporary art miniatures is the largest collection of its kind in the world. It includes freestanding structures, room settings, and some of the finest examples of decorative arts and material culture, in terms of artistry, quality of workmanship, and uniqueness. Created by master craftsmen and artists, they often are one-of-a-kind or limited-production pieces, and encompass a number of subjects including history, science, and mathematics. The museum primarily collects items in three scales: 1” to 1ft; ½” to 1ft.; and ¼” to 1ft.
The museum’s temporary exhibit areas have featured Barbie in 50 Years with America’s Favorite Fashion Doll, and a local toy art in Trash or Treasure? The Strange Items and Curious Artifacts of Just Colcord. Two new temporary exhibit galleries will feature pedal cars and Japanese Friendship dolls when the museum reopens. The museum will be open to the public year-round from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Sunday, closed Tuesdays.
The majority of the museum's current income is from the endowment, museum store sales, admission fees, memberships, and donations. The museum is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization and receives no state or federal funding.
The museum’s first public capital campaign raised $9.7 million to improve the museum’s climate to meet collection preservation standards; augment the endowment to provide funding for education and acquisitions; and, improve exhibitions and interpretation. As of November 1, 2014, the museum has $60,000 left to raise.
The museum closed on January 6, 2014 and will reopen in early 2015. T/m is a world-class museum that builds a fresh and relevant future on the strong foundation of the founders’ original intent, using storytelling and unique interactive experiences to bring out the curious nature and sense of imagination in every person, every time they visit.
With a dedicated staff of eight and a core group of volunteers, the museum achieved the following goals in 2014:
The staff will be busy in 2015 preparing the museum for reopening:
museum’s most pressing needs for support include the following:
Education: Funding for the development and implementation of educational programming to increase awareness of fine-scale miniatures as an art form, increase accessibility to the museum’s collections for a broader demographic, and foster community cooperation and identity.
Exhibitions: Underwriting for execution of the special exhibitions to allow the institution to better use the collection to foster an appreciation for and understanding of antique toys and fine-scale miniatures beyond the collection’s inherent wonder and whimsy.
Volunteers: Additional volunteer staff to assist with research, greeting and orienting visitors, and assisting with program stations.
Board Chair Statement
Museum of Toys and Miniatures seeks to educate, inspire, and delight museum
visitors and members about the historical and cultural significance of toys and
miniatures with a variety of innovative educational and programmatic strategies.
Through on-going programming, museum educators use the collection as a gateway to learning,
inspiring and cultivating contemplation, curiosity, imagination, analysis, and
The museum desires to increase
accessibility to the collection for a larger demographic by offering collections-focused
programs with a hands-on workshop component, such as the summer’s annual hands-on
activity series, the miniature artist-in-residence series, and family free
days. During these educational programs and events, visitors gain an appreciation
for and understanding of the difference between antique, historical toys and
fine-scale, contemporary art miniatures.
Through programming, the museum strives
to assist visitors in understanding and appreciating the art of the imagination
inherent in the collection. The museum’s education staff desires to share these
lessons with an increasingly diverse museum audience in order to break down
race, gender, and cultural barriers in the Kansas City community using the
common ground of play and toys.
Success will be measured by attendance
and membership rates; repeat visitation by existing members and guests in both
guided tours and on-going programming; an increase in community recognition in
the form of visitation, membership, donations, volunteers, partnerships, and
sponsorships; positive feedback from program participants and museum visitors;
and an increase in individual interaction with the organization in terms of
newsletter registrations, repeat visitation, and volunteers.
closing in January of 2014, for the second year in a row, the museum’s annual
free Back to School Day welcomed almost 1,000 people to the museum for hands-on
activities that encouraged engagement with the collection and conversation
amoungst multi-generational groups. A majority of the visitors had never been to
The museum has more than 72,000
artifacts in its collection. Museum staff strive to achieve the institution’s
mission to educate, inspire, and delight visitors by using the collection to
foster an appreciation for and understanding of antique toys and fine-scale
miniatures beyond the collection’s inherent wonder.
The museum presents special exhibitions highlighting aspects of our collection and other collectors’ assemblages, with an emphasis on exhibitions with a multi-generational appeal. Each exhibition includes educational, interactive, and contextual elements, in addition to supplemental programming. Currently, the museum has a backlog of exhibition ideas; underwriting support is needed to create these temporary exhibitions, including two planned for the museums reopening: Messengers of Goodwill: The 1927 Friendship Doll Exchange and Pedal to the Metal: Pedal Cars and American Car Culture.
T/m seeks to be a portal to the past, a
chronicle of the ways that our imaginations have served us over time and our material
culture has shaped and reflected our lives. Children of all ages, at all income
levels have engaged in play across generations. The museum is a place for
visitors to find common ground, reminisce, analyze, and discuss. Short-term
success includes visitors’ understanding of the difference between antique toys
and fine-scale miniatures, as well as an increase in corporations and community
organizations seeking to partner with the museum.
Long-term success of the museum’s exhibitions will
be marked by
museum tracks attendance, revenue, donations, and requests for membership
information. Those are then compared to special exhibition and non-exhibition
periods to determine the success of exhibition topics and provide guidance for
future exhibitions. Interactive experiences in the temporary exhibitions allow
for visitor feedback; these qualitative responses provide insight into visitor
enjoyment of an exhibition.
museum’s most recent temporary exhibition, In the spring and summer of 2013, the museum featured a local artist in Trash or Treasure? The Curious Items and Strange Artifacts of Just Colcord. Colcord crafts figures and “toys” out of found objects. Many of the objects on exhibit at the museum were also featured in Colcord’s stop-motion films. The exhibition not only increased attendance, but also introduced the museum to a new demographic during its run, which included two free Adults-Only Nights.
With underwriter assistance, the museum hopes to continue fulfilling its mission by improving current interpretation, presenting new exhibitions, increasing visitor enjoyment, and building the museum’s audience and community support.
The museum collection provides
unlimited educational possibilities for adults by encompassing a number of subjects
including history, architecture, decorative arts, material culture, science,
and mathematics. The fine-scale miniature collection is an
illustration of our material history, simultaneously demonstrating human
innovation, craftsmanship, and ingenuity while challenging viewers’ concept of
what is possible and stimulating critical thinking skills.
Toys are the product of the evolutionary social construction of childhood, stimulating imagination and creativity, while also reflecting education through play by teaching children adult skills and societal expectations; emulating cultural norms and mores, including commentaries on race, ethnicity, religion, politics, and world events from the time in which the toys were created; and documenting the hopes, dreams, technological advancements, economic successes and failures of a society. Through these subjects and more, the museum will continue to foster an adult audience with targeted programming.
Program short-term success will be gauged by achieving status as a study resource for art, art history,
architecture, and material culture students at local educational institutions
and beyond; the development of an appreciation
of fine-scale miniatures as a contemporary art form; and the dissemination of a
passion for collecting and the importance of proper preservation and storage
for future enjoyment.
Long-term success includes achieving
status as a resource for the cultivation of creativity and imagination;
developing partnerships with other arts and culture organizations in the
community, garnering support and introducing new adult audiences to the
institution; and becoming a resource for miniature artists, toy collector and
enthusiast communities and their associated organizations, and local colleges
Program success will be monitored by an
increase in individual interaction with the organization in terms of newsletter
registrations, repeat visitation, and volunteers; and positive feedback from
program participants and museum visitors.
2012 Miniature Artist-in-Residence program, featuring Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel,
successfully attracted adult visitors to the museum and enthralled those who
arrived without prior knowledge of the program. Over 1,100 adults enjoyed the
program and exhibition of the artist’s work. Many adults interested in pursuing
art, and miniature art in particular, attended the program’s events. One woman
sat with Wessel in her in-gallery studio for two hours watching her work and
picking the artist’s brain for instructional and bibliographic resources.
Another young woman stopped by during a college visit to see the accompanying
exhibition and discuss art schools with Wessel.
In preparation for renovations, the museum decided to postpone the 2013 Miniature Artist-in-Residence program until the museum has reopened. At that time, we look forward to premiering new miniature room settings and welcoming artists Kevin Mulvany and Susie Rogers to Kansas City from the United Kingdom to talk about their work.
museum's collection is strong in depth and breadth. We are striving to create
on-going programming for our core audiences, including multi-generational
families, adults, school-aged children, and tourists. The programming will
create context and help our guests explore the many facets of our collections.
As a museum with a relatively small budget and staff, our biggest programmatic challenge
is having enough resources. With the Midwest's largest toy collection and the
world's largest miniature collection, we have the potential to provide
exceptional interpretation and educational programming. However, we currently
lack the funds needed to expand. Additional funding would allow us to increase
the frequency of changing exhibitions and program offerings for all ages.
Berry has an EMBA from the Bloch School of Management at University of Missouri - Kansas City and has worked in both for profit and non-profit organizations. She brings over 25 years of experience in operations, management, sales, and marketing, and teaches leadership as an adjunct professor at UMKC.
Dobbins received her M.A. in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program at the State University of New York. She has worked in various capacities of escalating responsibility and expertise in the museum industry for 16 years. Dobbins is a noted speaker and author in the field and has vast experience from participation on numerous boards and committees.
Taylor is pursuing a M.A. in Art History from the University of Missouri - Kansas City and received a B.A. in History from Friends University. Her 18 years of experience in history and museum capacities includes Director of Tourism and Visitor Relations at Hillwood Museum and Gardens in Washington, D.C. and Historic Interpreter at Historic Mount Vernon.
Mundt received a M.A. in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program at the State University of New York and a B.A. in History and Business Administration, Marketing Concentration from Truman State University. She has completed a Fundraising Certificate from the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Missouri- Kansas City. Her 6 years of professional experience in all aspects of art, history, and science museums includes institutions in Kansas, Missouri, and New York, as well as presentations at local and national conferences.
museum continues to mature and we are now realizing the impact of our
evolution. With the expansion of the board, hiring of professional management
and staff, and the adoption of professional museum standards, the museum has
put itself on the path towards long-term sustainability. We are currently beginning
another chapter of growth as we work toward aligning our physical structure and
layout to match the ideas and possibilities the staff and board recognize we
can achieve. While it is exciting, it is stressful for the staff to maintain
balance with meeting today's needs and planning for the future. Yet is it is a
joyful process full of promise and we are pleased with how far we have come
over the past few years. But even more, we look very forward to where we are
an outside review of the museum in 2004-2005, the board elected to increase its
size. Previously composed of two members of each of the founding families and
two representatives of UMKC, the board expanded to include community
representatives in 2006. The secretary and museum's executive director also sit
on the board, but are non-voting members. In 2012, the board began to enact its
strategic plan, which included a further expansion of the board with a focus on
community members and diversity. Five new members bring the board total to
eleven voting members. The new members represent strategic needs of the
institution, from marketing to architecture and facilities, and expertise in
the museum collection, including an artist and well-known toy collector.
The board terms vary due to the founding family representation. The bylaws state that each founding family will have two representatives appointed by the families. Those designees serve at the will of the families, so no true term limits exist for those members. The rest of the board serves an initial three-year term with the ability to renew for a second term.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
main source of operations for the museum comes from the endowment, entrance
fees, and donors. The board has identified the need to grow
our annual budget to support programming, a more robust exhibit schedule, and
marketing of events. In the last year, the board and staff have been working to implement a
plan designed to increase the museum’s income. The plan’s strategies include growing
the endowment, community fundraising, underwriting for exhibits and
programming, and participation in grant programs. The board worked diligently to prepare the institution for the upcoming renovations that are the
result of strategic planning processes, which uncovered the need for changes to
the museum building as well as interpretation and exhibition.
Greater Kansas City Community Foundation
1055 Broadway Blvd., Suite 130, Kansas City, Missouri 64105
816.842.0944 | email@example.com
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