Welcome to the wondrous world of Tinkertown Museum, where creativity meets eccentricity. Located in Sandia Park, New Mexico, this one-of-a-kind museum showcases the incredible work of Ross Ward, a self-taught artist who spent over 40 years handcrafting and assembling thousands of unique and visually stunning miniatures. From miniature circuses and carousels to Western towns and animated puppets, Tinkertown Museum is a fascinating destination for both art enthusiasts and curious explorers. Join us on a journey through the enchanting world of Tinkertown Museum and discover the magic of this remarkable creation.
Tinkertown Museum: A Quirky Southwest Gem
Tinkertown Museum, located in Sandia Park, New Mexico, is not your average museum. It is a place that is filled with the quirky designs of Ross Ward, who spent over 40 years creating unique displays that showcase his vision and creativity. The museum’s collection of oddities is something that will leave you amazed and amused at the same time. Let’s dive into the details to know more about Tinkertown Museum and its unique features.
The Life and Vision of Ross Ward
Ross Ward was a man who had a passion for tinkering with things and creating something new out of it. Born in Kansas, he moved to New Mexico with his wife, Carla. It was there that he started building his dream house, which then became the Tinkertown Museum. He began working on his masterpiece in the early ’60s and continued until his death in 2002.
Ross Ward had the gift of seeing what could be made out of anything and everything. He utilized everyday objects such as matchsticks, buttons, bottle caps, and other items to create amazing miniatures, and he gathered his collection of oddities for display in his unique museum.
Ward’s vision was to create something that was not only entertaining but also educational. He wanted to display the history of the Old West in a unique, interactive way. He used humor, satire, and creativity to tell stories through his miniature dioramas, animated figures, and historical artifacts. His legacy lives on in the museum, which is a testament to his passion, vision, and creativity.
The Collection of Oddities
Tinkertown Museum is home to an extensive collection of oddities that will make you marvel at the creativity and imagination of Ross Ward. The collection includes over 50,000 glass bottles, each of which is unique in shape and size. The museum showcases the bottles in fascinating ways, often using them to create beautiful mosaics on the walls.
Ward’s miniature dioramas are undoubtedly the highlight of the museum. His collection includes displays such as a circus, a town square with a train passing through, and a saloon with a card game in progress. Each of these dioramas is filled with intricate details and animated figures that come to life at the push of a button.
The museum also includes an extensive collection of historical artifacts, including weapons, tools, and other items from the Old West. Ward was passionate about preserving history, and he used his creativity to showcase these artifacts in a unique, interactive way that makes the museum both educational and entertaining.
One of the museum’s most popular displays is the arcade, featuring Ross Ward’s collection of vintage machines such as a fortune teller, strength tester, and player piano. Visitors can enjoy these quirky machines and see history come alive through the eyes of Ross Ward.
In conclusion, Tinkertown Museum is a must-see for anyone who wants to experience something truly unique. It is a place that showcases the creativity, vision, and passion of Ross Ward, who spent his life creating a museum that is both entertaining and educational. The collection of oddities on display at Tinkertown Museum is something that you won’t see anywhere else, making it a quirky gem of the Southwest that is not to be missed.
Exploring Tinkertown Museum
Tinkertown’s Main Attractions
Tinkertown Museum is a quirky and unique museum located just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. With over 50,000 individual pieces to behold, visitors are sure to find something that piques their interest. As you wander through the museum, you will come across a range of fascinating exhibits and installations, including the Old West Saloon and a full-size animated circus.
One of the standout attractions of Tinkertown is the incredible hand-carved miniature cowboy town created by its founder, artist Ross Ward. Arranged across multiple floors of the museum, this whimsical display features intricate buildings, storefronts, and landscapes, all crafted in meticulous detail. Visitors will be charmed by the tiny figures that inhabit the town, completing their various daily activities. It truly is a miniature marvel that has to be seen in person to be appreciated.
The museum’s Old West Saloon is another must-see attraction. Decked out with antique furnishings and other period-appropriate decor, the saloon even has a fully stocked bar and a life-size animatronic bartender to serve up drinks. Visitors can enjoy taking a seat on one of the bar stools and soaking up the Old West atmosphere while watching the bartender pour and mix drinks for patrons.
The circus exhibit is another Tinkertown highlight. Crafted with love and attention to detail by Ross Ward over approximately forty years, this masterpiece features a full range of performers and acts, including clowns, acrobats, and animals. Children and adults alike will be amazed by the intricate animations and perfect synchronicity of the tiny figures in the circus.
Interactive and Educational Exhibits
Alongside the quirky and engaging exhibits, there are also a variety of educational and interactive features that make Tinkertown Museum a truly unique destination. Visitors can interact with vintage arcade games, a fortune-telling machine, and other mechanical oddities that transport them back to an earlier era of entertainment.
Perhaps the most impressive interactive exhibit is the Glass Quilt. Created by Ross Ward’s wife, Carla, this stunning collection features over 25,000 individually cut and polished pieces of glass arranged into a gorgeous, sparkling quilt. Visitors are invited to interact with the display by pushing buttons that animate different sections of the quilt, creating a stunning light show that dazzles the eye.
In addition to these interactive attractions, Tinkertown also features a range of educational exhibits that provide insights into a variety of topics, including history, science, and art. Visitors can learn about American history by exploring the exposition of presidential trivia, or they can discover the intricate process of creating hand-carved wooden figures in the miniatures workshop. These educational exhibits allow visitors of all ages to learn through play and exploration, making Tinkertown a fascinating and engaging destination for the whole family.
Critiques and Controversies
While Tinkertown Museum is undeniably fun and engaging, it has not been without its fair share of critiques and controversies. One issue that has garnered criticism is the use of Native American imagery in some of the exhibits. Some visitors have voiced concern that these items perpetuate stereotypes and do not accurately represent Native American culture.
Tinkertown is also under fire for its portrayal of historical events and figures. Some critics feel that the museum’s exhibits lack nuance and sensitivity in their depictions of historical events, painting a one-dimensional and inaccurate picture of the past.
Despite these critiques, Tinkertown remains a beloved and unique attraction for many visitors. Its offbeat charm and unparalleled artistry make it a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Albuquerque area.
Plan Your Tinkertown Adventure
Visiting the Tinkertown Museum is a unique and fun experience that is great for people of all ages. If you’re planning a trip, here’s what you need to know.
Hours, Directions, and Admission
The Tinkertown Museum is located at 121 Sandia Crest Rd, Sandia Park, New Mexico. It’s about 20 miles from Albuquerque, and you can get there by taking I-40 east to the Tijeras exit and following the signs. The museum is open daily from April through October, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. In the off-season, they are open on weekends only.
Admission to the museum is $7 for adults, $4 for children ages 4-16, and free for children under 4. They offer discounts for seniors, military personnel, and AAA members. They also have a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs.
Tips for Visitors
Here are some tips and suggestions for making the most of your visit to the Tinkertown Museum:
- Bring a camera – there are plenty of photo opportunities throughout the museum.
- Wear comfortable shoes – you’ll be doing a lot of walking, and some areas are uneven.
- Plan for at least an hour to see everything, but you can easily spend several hours there.
- Take your time and explore all the nooks and crannies – there are many hidden surprises throughout the museum.
- Buy souvenirs at the museum gift shop – they have a great selection of unique items that you won’t find anywhere else.
- Bring water and snacks – there are picnic tables on the property where you can have a snack or a meal.
- Check out nearby dining options like The Greenside Cafe, which is known for its delicious vegetarian cuisine.
Events and Special Programs
Throughout the year, the Tinkertown Museum hosts special events and programs that are fun for the whole family. Here are a few that you might want to check out:
- Puppet shows – the museum has a puppet theater where they put on shows throughout the year.
- Holiday celebrations – Tinkertown decks the halls for Christmas and Halloween, with special displays and activities for visitors.
- Workshops – the museum occasionally offers workshops where visitors can learn how to create their own miniatures.
- Live music – the museum occasionally hosts live music events, with local musicians performing on the property.
Make sure to check the Tinkertown Museum’s website or Facebook page to stay up-to-date on upcoming events and programs.
Overall, the Tinkertown Museum is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting New Mexico. With its whimsical displays and quirky charm, it’s sure to be a highlight of your trip. So, plan your visit today and get ready for a truly unique experience!