August 11, 2014

KC museum’s tower of toys needs yours

Kansas City’s National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, undergoing a renovation, wants donated toys for a new, rotating attraction.

Despite evidence and an undeserved reputation to the contrary, we’re all in favor of having fun in these parts. And what’s more fun than celebrating toys?

That’s what it will feel like when you scour your closets and hand over some of your nostalgic goodies to the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.

The museum, situated in a hilltop mansion at 52nd and Oak streets, recently rebranded itself with a “National” name befitting its significant collection of 72,000 antiques, historic toys and rare miniature pieces. It’s undergoing a $9 million renovation that started with an overhaul of its climate-control system and grew to include a makeover of exhibit spaces. Heavy equipment has been on the site lately, and though the museum is closed for more than a year, its operatives are hard at work preparing the place for its future.

One initiative begins this week. The museum is collecting toys from the public — specifically it wants only small plastic and metal items — that could be used in a new feature called the “Toytisserie.” This is conceived as something of an art installation, in which a conveyor belt covered in these donated toys will rotate vertically in a glass-enclosed lobby tower nearly two stories tall. Suitable for viewing, that is.

Toys can be dropped off through September at the Plaza Branch library, the Johnson Country Central Resource Library, the nearby UMKC Student Union and the UMKC School of Medicine on the Hospital Hill Campus.

The museum expects to reopen early next year, and in the interim some of its spectacular miniatures are on display at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

The museum, which opened in 1982, is a unique local asset filled with family-oriented fun. It’s poised to fly out from under the radar when it returns.

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