Beaver Island Toy Museum - Atlas Obscura

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Beaver Island Toy Museum

Beaver Island, Michigan

On a remote island in the northern reaches of Lake Michigan, a museum of collectibles collides with a vintage toy store.  

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Tucked into the woods on the coast of Beaver Island, this colorful toy museum is filled from floor to rafters with toys for kids of all ages, and the young at heart. Vintage dolls from around the globe and cowgirl figurines from 1937 line the walls. Toy planes, boats, and trucks from the 1910s and beyond hang from the rafters among tricycles and bicycles alike. The island respite is also home to many misfit toys, from local dug-up doll heads to jars stuffed with miscellaneous trinkets, and plenty of Bigfoot paraphernalia.

The aisles are filled with a plethora of vintage toys literally at children’s fingertips: jars of tacks, toy soldiers, and things that wind up, whiz and woosh. No matter where you look, there’s always something new to discover; like a hidden (and slightly horrifying) tea party tucked into a corner. Many of the older oddities and collectibles aren’t for sale. Then again, many are.

And the fun spills out the back door. A yard with toys and a playhouse leads to a small art studio featuring local artists’ work, like a photo series of Bigfoot lounging about the toy shop and island. The real star of the show is Mary Rose. She’s known for her colorful paintings, but she’s also the founder of the Beaver Island Toy Museum, and can often be found behind the counter.

Mary Rose, 84, is a former kindergarten teacher and lifelong artist. Her love for toys blossomed when she had her son, inspiring her to make and sell toys and other goods, from stuffed toys to wooden puzzles. As her collection and obsession grew, she opened a shop in Chicago. In 1979, she spent one day visiting the island before deciding to move and open the toy museum.

There is no cost for entry, but odds are you won’t leave empty-handed. 

Know Before You Go

The store is open Memorial Day weekend through early fall. Its hours are typically 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but they may vary. Once you see the toy museum sign you walk on a path through the wooded yard and the museum will appear in front of you. You won't miss it.

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