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Toy museum dream could be a physical reality this summer

By Gord Bowes, News staff

The Hamilton Toy Museum could have a permanent home soon.
Chris Weston, who’s been pursuing the idea for over two years, hopes to set up shop somewhere this summer, even though it will be smaller than his dream of a large standalone building.
It will probably be a couple rooms in a shared space, perhaps in a school building or community centre, but from that foundation, he can start to grow.
“If people see what you are doing, they know it’s not just a guy with an idea, it’s something you can get behind,” says Weston.
That’s the Catch-22 he faces: without a physical building for people to see and experience, it’s hard to get a lot of funding, especially corporate sponsorships.
Earlier this year, an attempt to raise money through the crowdsourcing website indiegogo.com fell flat.
Just $281 was pledged, a far cry from the $100,000 goal that was set.
“I was hoping to get at least a thousand (dollars) as a show of support,” admits Weston.
But other fundraising efforts over the last two years have been successful, he says, and that should allow the toy museum to take shape this summer, though it won’t be in its own building as hoped.
More details about the museum and its fundraising are available at www.thtm.ca.
Weston has been pursuing the idea of a toy museum with help from his wife and some family members. He says he’s always been a comic book collector and still has his Star Wars action figures from the early 1980s.
As an educator — he’s a physics teacher at Sherwood Secondary School — he recognizes toys are about education and developing skills as much as simply playing.
While planning family road trips with interesting places for his children, he noticed he had to go stateside to find a toy museum.
That’s when he got the idea to build one in Hamilton so other families can visit one without crossing the border.
“There’s really nothing like it in Canada,” says Weston.
He envisions the Hamilton Toy Museum being a combination of permanent displays and on-loan exhibitions, “but it’s really more about hands-on for the kids.”
As a teacher, he knows how to tie the museum in with school curriculum, such as holding Lego bridge building contests which would teach students about engineering.
Weston says he sees the toy museum as being different than a children’s museum as he plans to service a wider age range of kids, plus adults who want to remember their youth.
He’s had offers from people who would take their unique collections out of their basements to share with a temporary exhibition at the museum.
Weston says he’s convinced the idea of a full, standalone museum will eventually come to fruition, it’s just a matter of time.
“If it takes a while and ends up being my retirement project, then so be it.”

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