Salem’s Own Toy Story — New Museum Opens June 2
The Salem Toy Museum Opens June 2 at Museum Place Mall.
Teeming with a wide variety of toys from the 1950s through 1980s — and a few from the 1990s — museum-goers can re-visit old favorites like Mr. Potato Head and find more esoteric discoveries such as the Cragstan Kitchen Robot, imported from Japan right after World War II. Displays feature fun facts about the toys and original advertising artwork.
Frank Sarcia recently decided to fulfill his longtime dream of creating the museum. He started his career with a BFA in graphic design from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly. After over 15 years in the business he was laid off from his job as a graphic designer at a Boston architectural firm. He then sought space to house a revolving collection of the hundreds of toys he amassed over the years.
“I’ve always collected toys,” Sarcia said. “I had this in the back of my mind but never thought I’d do it. After I got laid off I starting thinking about what I really wanted to do. I decided to do this and I’m hoping it flies.”
Sarcia said there are few museums in the area like the one he is creating. The museum has a hipster feel, with many items from movies and television.
“I wanted to make something I want to see,” he said. “I’m more focused on pop culture items than dolls and trains.”
Among Sarcia’s favorites are toys from H.R. Pufnstuf, Major Matt Mason and Planet of the Apes.
While the museum’s focus is on fun, getting the place ready has been hard work. Over the last four months, with the help of friends such as Kirk Dodge, Sarcia has had to fill the floor with cement, build walls and paint from top to bottom. Nevertheless, he likes his spot.
“Salem is a great location because of the crowds that are here,” he said. “There’s a greater ability for success being down in the heart of it.”
In addition to working in graphic design, Sarcia has been an illustrator of children’s books. He created two mascots for the museum, Zilcho and Zilly, who are slugs that grace signage. Sarcia plans on having stuffed versions available along with other toys in the museum’s gift shop.
“They are kind of like my Mickey and Minnie,” Sarcia said. “The name Zilcho came out of my zilch cash fund, and we have Zilly because we needed a girl.”
Sarcia will staff the museum to start. The tours are self-guided. Throughout the year, he plans various events featuring special toy lines, such as those from The Wizard of Oz, Peanuts and Star Wars. At Halloween, he will have a monster toy exhibit and a haunted house for children.
Sarcia said he is trying to include a little of everything, which is difficult, and the museum, he added, is not just for kids.
“I’m hoping it’s for families who want to show their kids what they were into, also collectors and pop culture-type people,” he said. “Salem’s kooky enough to handle this.”
The Salem Toy Museum has a colorful Facebook page highlighting vintage and modern toys at http://www.facebook.com/salemtoymuseum. Beginning June 2, hours are 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $6 with children under 3 free. Senior citizens can enjoy a half price discount on Wednesdays.