Small Talk / Museum

Pedal to the Metal

Pedal Cars

T/m’s recent renovation included space for two temporary exhibit galleries. The first exhibit in the larger gallery focuses on America’s obsession with shiny metal bodies on four wheels. Pedal-powered cars, boats, and trucks grew in popularity in the 1950s as the rising American middle class moved to the suburbs. And as we all know, cars and the suburbs go hand in hand. Thunderbirds, Packards, and Dodges introduced children to the freedom and responsibility of the open road.

Pedal to the Metal: Pedal Cars and American Car Culture features cars from T/m’s collection, the collections of several local individuals, and vehicles from the Smith Collection at the Museum of American Speed in Lincoln, Nebraska. Some of our personal favorites include the 1955 Good Humor Truck, 1941 Steelcraft Pursuit Plane, 1960 Deluxe “Flat Face” Dude Wagon, and the 1953 Torpedo. Pedal to the Metal rolls out August 28, 2016, so you have plenty of time to cruise in and see it!

How Do They Do It?

how miniatures are made

We get this question at T/m a LOT when people visit the fine-scale miniature galleries. We stay awake at night contemplating it ourselves. So, when we started talking about what we wanted to add to the miniature galleries, a look into fine-scale miniature artists’ studios was at the top of our list.

In T/m’s new exhibit, In The Artist’s Studio, visitors can watch four videos that take them into the studios of William R. Robertson and Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel. Not only did the artists let us invade their studios for multiple days of filming, which included shoving cameras inches from their faces (everything is really small!), but they also donated all of the tools they used and created multiple pieces that illustrate the steps in the process towards the final product. Robertson turned a metal candlestick on a lathe and carved a dovetail drawer. Chellis Wessel painted an egg tempera canvas and turned a ceramic plate on a wheel. While the exhibit provides some answers, it will still leave you in awe of their work!

Let’s Play House

dollhouse exhibit

The dollhouse is one of the most popular and enduring toys of all time. Why you ask? Because it fulfills so many needs: creativity, invention, psychological exploration, and self-discovery. Let’s Play House explores the collection’s dollhouses and the little girls that played with them, including Mamie Burt and Josephine Bird. These nineteenth-century homes are from the great age of dollhouses. During this period, affluent parents commissioned the houses as a training tool for their daughters’ future roles as wives, mothers, and household managers. That’s some big shoes to fill!

By the twentieth century, dollhouse play focused more on imagination than household management (thank goodness!). The museum’s Tynietoy dollhouse is now on display with recent acquisitions to the collection, including a 1974 Fisher-Price Play Family “A” Frame and a 1950s Louis Marx and Company “L” Shaped Ranch Dollhouse complete with a swimming pool!

We’re Back At It!

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is back in business. After rushing to the finish line to put the final touches on all new exhibits and interactive experiences, we reopened to the public on August 1, 2015. Since then, we’ve welcomed over 12,000 guests and hope that you will be among them soon.

If Kansas City is a little too far away, put it on your bucket list and stay tuned for blog posts on all of our new exhibits from dollhouses in Let’s Play House to an exploration of how in the world artist’s can possibly make works of art that small in In The Artist’s Studio.

The Moment We’ve Been Waiting For

Architecture Classroom

Drum roll please… The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures (yup, that’s us!) will be reopening Saturday, August 1, 2015! The construction is finally wrapping up and we’re getting the building all neat (we’re talking neat enough to eat off the floors) and pretty in preparation for the collection’s homecoming. We’ve got lots of exhibits to fabricate, objects to install, and a two-story toy sculpture to put together.

While we begin the countdown to August (159 days, 2 hours, 1 minute, 52 seconds… but who’s counting?!), check out our new website! Thanks to support from the Victor E. Speas Foundation, Bank of America, trustee, you can browse our collection, search for volunteer and internship opportunities, and purchase museum memberships. And make sure to stick around for sneak peeks over the next 159 days!

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