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Monday, June 18, 2012

All Ages Love Kidd's Toy Museum


Tucked away in an unassuming, modest little building with no windows on SE Grand Street is one of those Portland gems that even most lifetime residents are unaware. The appropriately named Kidd's Toy Museum is the lifelong dream of Frank Kidd who's grand collection of literally thousands of antique toys lines the wall-to-wall display cases spread amongst several rooms. The collection primarily spans the late 1800's to the mid-20th century, but there is a smattering of more recent finds, evidence that the collector still finds some time to make new acquisitions.


Upon entering the Willy Wonka-like tribute to childhood, you will see various scales of antique diecast, tin, and pressed steel toy vehicles & airplanes, pedal cars, models, displays, advertising pieces, cast iron banks, retro-futuristic spacecraft from before the age of moon landings, along side less expected items like a vintage padlock collection, Christmas ornaments and cotton-bodied miniature zeppelins. Some pieces evoke simpler times while others remind us of a cringe-worthy era when Black Americana pieces were a typical source of humor.


One sour note in the history of the museum occurred in early 2010, when two men allegedly stole over $350,000 worth of overflow materials that were being stored in a separate location, tho the primary collection remains intact. The men were only charged for theft of three valuable carousel horses that later turned up at a resell shop, being the only items that could be directly tied to them, and were forced to repay only their value, approximately $10,000.


Kidd's Toy Museum has casual hours so call ahead to verify before making the trip down, and for God's sake, only knock once when you arrive if the doors are locked. We were scolded for knocking twice by the docent on duty who explained to us that it takes her some time to get to the door, tho she was very friendly and accommodating for the remainder of our visit. Sure it's a bit quirky and musty inside, but so is Portland.

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