Located just south of the Plaza neighborhood on the University of Missouri campus in Kansas City, this gem is a must-see for fans of historic toys and games. The Toy & Miniature Museum of Kansas City was founded by a pair of women, one of whom collected doll houses and the other of whom collected fine scale miniatures. Over the years, the museum has added collections of toy soldiers, games, dolls and stuffed animals, model trains, tin toys, and especially marbles.

While it’s the scale miniatures that are the most professionally displayed in the most modern rooms, in terms of sheer volume, doll houses clearly lead the museum’s collection. I didn’t count, but there are probably hundreds on display, including many of European manufacture dating back to the 19th century. There is one 9 feet tall and one made of glass. My favorite was a windmill, who’s wood construction I found striking.

In terms of games, the Toy & Miniature Museum holds many wonderful examples from the mid-20th century—such as some of us might remember from our childhoods—as well as a number from the mid-to-late 1800s. Marbles in particular are a focus of the museum. Thousands are displayed in their own gallery.

I was a bit disappointed that most of the museum’s displays were unlabeled and presented without any background information. I would very much like to have learned more about the historical context, construction, and artistic styles of what I was looking at. Nevertheless, there is definitely much to appreciate, even without educational material.

Also a word of caution for those considering bringing young children. Many of the museum’s doll houses are displayed within easy reach. Adults will understand not to touch but little kids may find it difficult to resist.

The museum is housed in an old mansion that has been added on to multiple times. Most of the rooms are not large, but they are packed full! The layout adds to a sense of discovery wandering around the building. Various nooks (probably former closets) hold some great treasures.

Spend an afternoon next time you’re in Kansas City discovering the Toy & Miniature Museum for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.