"Tinkertown Museum" Albuquerque Off The Beaten Path Tip by toonsarah
Albuquerque Off The Beaten Path: 67 reviews and 100 photos
As soon as I read about Tinkertown I knew that it was a ?must see? for us. We both love these idiosyncratic places that seem to define a US road trip for us ? and this is one of the best we have come across. If you are anywhere in the area I urge you to go ? you?ll have great fun and even maybe find yourself a little moved by the dedication of the one man who created it.
So many of these quirky folk art museums are the result of one person?s obsession. In this case that person was Ross Ward. It took him over 40 years to create the huge number of models and scenarios that make up Tinkertown, and it?s easy to believe that it took that long once you start to explore. As he said, ?I did all this while you were watching TV?. A sign inside explains:
?Tinkertown was begun as a hobby in 1962. The little General Store [my main photo] came first (it was all I intended to build at the time!) 90% of this display was built by myself. The buildings are scraps form my sign business and the people are wood-carved or made of clay. Many of the furnishings are antique toys and miniatures. I did it all ?a dollar at a time? without a grant or a bank loan! You can do the same no matter what your project!?
The fun starts as soon as you pull up in the car. There are old signs galore, wagon wheels, saddles, other Wild West paraphernalia dotted around the site, while the wall that surrounds the museum is made up of over 50,000 glass bottles ? recycling gone crazy! Once you?ve finished exploring outside (at no charge), pay your $3 to enter the rambling museum and prepare to be transported to another world!
The first section, which was probably my favourite, consists of a row of dioramas depicting different buildings on a sort of Wild West theme. There?s the General Store already mentioned, a hotel, a Native American Trader, a pharmacy with a doctor?s surgery above (photo two) and many more. Some are animated, all are fascinating and repay careful scrutiny ? there are just so many amusing details. Here a man with a cleaver chases chickens in a circle, the doctor ogles a young female patient while his nurse glares at him, men fight in the street, couples ride by in wagons and children play.
In other sections you will see Ward?s various eclectic collections from over the years, including wedding cake couples, antique tools, bullet pencils, dolls and more. Later models are on a grander scale, especially the circus, complete with big top, cages of animals, trapeze act ? the list goes on.
Back outside there is a rather incongruous addition to the collection in the shape of the Theodora, a 35 foot wooden boat that a friend once sailed around the world before retiring to the Caribbean and donating his boat to Tinkertown.
Many of the models are animated. When you pay your entry you will be given a quarter back to put into the first animation, a hillbilly band ?Rusty Wyer and the Turquoise Trail Riders? (photo three). Make sure though that you have a few more quarters with you too (ask at the till for change if you don?t) as you will certainly want to use them on later models ? the Boot Hill Cemetery (photo four shows just a glimpse) is a must!
Oh, and hidden among the collections is a small model of Mark Twain, and this quote from him, which I think could be a great motto for VT:
?Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely ... Broad, wholesome, charitable views ... cannot be acquired by vegetating in one?s little corner of Earth.?
Directions: Take Interstate 40 east from Albuquerque and leave at exit 175 and head north about six miles on Highway 14. The junction with Highway 536 is at a wide point on the road and consequently a little hard to spot, or so we found ? we nearly missed it! The entrance to Tinkertown is on your left about a mile and a half up the road.
Open April 1st ? October 31st, 9am to 6pm daily, 7 days a week (last admission 5:30pm )
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