KC toy museum to get makeover

Where to put a 9-foot-tall, 150-year-old dollhouse is one decision operators of the Toy Miniature Museum of Kansas City will contemplate as they prepare for renovations to start in fall 2014.

The museum, which is being renamed the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, on Tuesday launched the public phase of a $9.2 million capital campaign. More than $8 million already has been raised to upgrade the building’s entrance, increase the museum’s endowment, rearrange exhibits and revamp the heating and cooling systems to stabilize conditions inside the 30-year-old museum.

The work, especially the heating and cooling upgrade, is vital for the preservation of the 80,000 museum pieces visited by about 25,000 people every year in the building at Oak and 52nd streets. The Kansas City museum houses one of the largest toy and miniature collections in the country. In the last 10 years, 27 toy and doll museums across the country have closed.

“We are interested in the long-term care of the collection,” said Jamie Berry, executive director, “and in making more efficient use of the (33,000 square feet of) space.”

During the renovation, the museum will shut down temporarily, and all the toys and miniatures inside will be moved into storage. In the early packing-up stages, visitors will be allowed to tour the museum and watch the process, said Vincent Gauthier, chairman of the museum’s board.

When exhibit pieces are returned to the reconditioned museum, many will be placed in different rooms from the ones they left. Museum operators say they don’t know where the huge Coleman Dollhouse will end up; it now stands at the bottom of the grand staircase.

The building got its start as a mansion built in 1906 for physician Herbert Tureman. It has been greatly expanded since.

Museum operators aren’t sure when the renovations will be completed. But when they are done, they expect the facility will meet standards for accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums.

For more information about the campaign, go to


or call 816-235-8000.