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Toy museum will close in January for an overhaul

Updated: 2013-09-18T03:35:06Z

By GLENN E. RICE

The Kansas City Star

The Toy & Miniature Museum, on the edge of the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, will close in early January, albeit temporarily, as it undergoes a massive renovation and rebranding aimed at giving it national stature.

The collection of more than 72,000 items will be mothballed after Jan. 6 while the interior of the building at 5235 Oak St. is remodeled and a new heating and cooling system is installed.

“Making sure we preserve this massive collection is paramount,” said Vincent Gauthier, the museum board chairman. “The whole heating and cooling isn’t quite what we need for the preservation of these important artifacts.”

The collection features dollhouses, miniatures and antique toys dating to the early 1880s and has grown since the museum was founded more than three decades ago by Barbara Marshall and Mary Harris Francis, two collectors of miniatures. It attracts more than 25,000 visitors a year.

The museum will reopen in early 2015 as the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. The name change reflects an effort to raise its profile regionally and nationally. The museum is looking to replicate the national prominence and recognition of the World War I and the Nelson-Atkins museums.

“We believe the collection of miniatures is second to none, and the toy collection is a complement to that,” Gauthier said. “What we are trying to do is share with people something that is in their backyard.”

While the museum is closed, the collection is expected to maintain a community presence through limited exhibits at fairs and through partnerships with other groups. Several family-oriented events are scheduled before the closing.

The collection is housed in a Mediterranean-style mansion built in the early 1900s.

The building is owned by UMKC, but the museum is operated by a nonprofit group.

The renovations are being supported by a $9.2 million capital campaign that began late last year. With $8.5 million raised, the museum is about $700,000 short of reaching its goal.

To reach Glenn E. Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send email to grice@kcstar.com.

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