Small Talk Tag: Barbara Marshall

Building a Fine-Scale Collection

fine-scale miniature

What started as a souvenir in the 1950s, became a serious collection by the 1970s, a museum by 1982, and is today the world’s largest and finest collection. Museum co-founder Barbara Marshall combined her love for small things with an eye for detail refined throughout her professional career in Hallmark’s art department and volunteer service at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The combination resulted in a patron that desired only the highest quality work from artists that could meet her standards.

Marshall encouraged artists to create their dream fine-scale works, allowing many artists to explore the boundaries of the art form. The outcomes can be seen throughout T/m’s miniature galleries, including Emperor Charles V of Spain and Queen Isabella of Portugal.

Inspiring a Fine-Scale Collection

fine-scale miniature

On Small Talk, we’ve already looked at three miniature commissions in the early 20th century that helped spark the fine-scale miniature movement: Queen Mary’s Dollhouse, Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, and the Thorne Rooms. All three commissions employed full-scale craftsmen to create miniature versions of their work for public exhibition. But how did the museum’s collection come to be?

Museum founder Barbara Marshall loved small things. Contrary to most children, she always looked forward to getting the “smallest” present. In the 1950s, she discovered the shop of Eric Pearson, one of the craftsman hired to furnish the Thorne Rooms. A 1:12 scale Pearson rocking chair began her collection that is now the largest in the world. Stay tuned for more about Marshall and the gigantic, miniature collection she built.

A Rare Gem: Collaborating on the Art Deco Jewelry Store

art deco jewelry

The jazz age of the 1920s and 1930s effectively put the final nail in the coffin of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. During that time, the world saw the rise of a new type of popular music, new fashion trends (that still appear today), and a new form of art and architecture known as Art Deco. While our hometown of Kansas City has many examples of Art Deco buildings, our favorite example is our 1:12 scale miniature Art Deco Jewelry Store.

Specially commissioned by T/m’s co-founder Barbara Marshall, the Art Deco Jewelry Store is the product of a collaboration between several miniature artists. Kevin Mulvany and Susie Rogers (best known as just Mulvany & Rogers) built the architectural space and jewelry counter. María José Santos created the miniature couple and dapper salesman figures. Robert Ward beaded the magnificent chandelier. Last, but not least, Lori Ann Potts is responsible for the miniature “bling” inside of the jewelry cases. Stick with us as we zoom in on the details of this jazzy miniature!

Happy Birthday to Us!

BirthdayCake

Thirty-one was a big year for the museum, and we are confident that thirty-two will be even bigger! Although the museum didn’t get married (that’s just silly talk, institutions can’t get married), we did legally change our name to The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. The name change reflects the quality and scope of the collection and the future direction of the museum’s exhibits, programming, and research.

During our thirty-second year, we’ll be re-opening The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures with new exhibits, including a brand new museum introduction and a two-story toy sculpture in the museum lobby. We’re pretty excited and we hope you are too. Stay tuned here, and on Pinterest and Facebook for sneak peeks as the progress continues!

Happy Birthday Toy and Miniature Museum

Museum Grand Opening 1982

Who didn’t love “show and tell?!” Bringing a prized baseball card or pet hamster to share with classmates gave us that warm, fuzzy feeling that we now know as pride and happiness. We’re guessing that’s exactly what museum cofounders Mary Harris Francis (second from the left) and Barbara Marshall (first from the left) felt when they opened the Toy and Miniature Museum this week in 1982.

Both collected small things: Francis coveted antique toys, imperfect in scale and well-loved. Marshall sought artfully-crafted, fine-scale miniatures. After years of acquiring, they opened the museum in the Tureman mansion on the University of Missouri- Kansas City campus in order to share their vast collections.

Since then, the Toy and Miniature Museum has expanded twice, received donations from over 2,000 individuals, broken a Guinness World Record, and become a local treasure. As we transition to The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, we look forward to a future filled with “show and tell.”

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