Spinning tops never cease to amuse us. They are timeless, yet nostalgic. They are enjoyed by adults just as they are by kids. This makes them perfect for inclusion in toy museums. Similarly, the fascinating physics concepts that cause them to spin make them ideal for science museum toys.
There are at least two museums devoted solely to spinning tops. One of them is in the United States and the other in Japan. Many other toy museums include tops as one of the many toys they exhibit.
The next time you’re traveling or on a road trip, seek out a spinning top museum or toy museum to get a blast from your past, learn more about tops, or have a chance to spin various types of tops that you’ve never played with before.
Here are 16 toy museum options for you to choose from!
Spinning top museum and other toy museums in the US
To my knowledge, the only museum in the US dedicated (almost) entirely to spin toys is the Spinning Top & Yo-Yo Museum of Burlington, Wisconsin. It includes an amazing 2,000-item exhibition of antique and modern spinning tops, yo-yos, gyroscopes, diablos, and other spinning toys. Visitors can play, experience, learn some science, and watch live demonstrations by spinning experts.
The Vermont Toy Museum encourages you to be a kid again and share your childhood memories with other visitors to their collection of more than 100,000 toys. This museum is the result of its founder’s dream and 30 years of dedication to preserving our toy heritage. It is also known for its impressive gift shop of retro and vintage toys.
The next toy museum on the list is not merely a building – it’s a complex. The touristy city of Branson, MO is home to the World’s Largest Toy Museum Complex. It has the mission of taking people back to their childhoods, bringing forgotten memories back to life, and offering opportunities for sharing those recollections with family and friends. The “complex” of museums includes a checkers museum, a bear museum, a BB gun museum, and more.
Missouri has a second toy museum! The National Museum of Toys / Miniatures educates, inspires, and delights adults and children through the museum’s collection and preservation of toys and miniatures. As of 2021, their toy collection is comprised of 59,591 toys.
Local citizens of Pauls Valley, OK came together and identified goals they would like the community to reach in the next ten years. Among the many ideas discussed, the town wanted unique attractions that would help to make Pauls Valley a destination city. The award-winning Toy & Action Figure Museum was born from this and has served as an economic catalyst for the downtown area.
The Strong is an interactive, collections-based museum in New York devoted to the history and exploration of play. It is home to the National Toy Hall of Fame, which inducts innovative toys that have gained widespread recognition and popularity over multiple generations. Today, 74 toys have been inducted, including the jack-in-the-box, the rubber duck, the slinky, Play-Doh, and the Easy Bake Oven.
International toy museums
The second of two museums on this list entirely geared toward spinning tops is the Japan Spinning Top Museum. It is a collection of about 20,000 tops from all over Japan and more than 60 other countries. It features toys from as early as the Edo period (beginning in the early 1600s) up through present day. It also hosts exciting events and competitions, such as the Japan Top Technique Championship, and visits local schools to pass along its passion for top spinning.
The Hamilton Toy Museum & Collectors Shop of Scotland includes five nostalgia-fueled rooms, including “everything you ever had, everything you ever wanted, and everything the kid next door had.” They have an entire room dedicated to soldiers, one to dolls and bears, and another to TV and sci-fi.
Located in a white and blue house in Thailand, the Million Toy Museum was opened by a children’s book illustrator who was inspired during a trip to Japan. It showcases Thai toys dating back to the Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, and Rattanakosin periods, and includes clay toys and piggy banks, as well as many other toys from Asia and the rest of the world.
The sign outside the Penang Toy Museum in Malaysia says “Welcome to the Largest & Costliest Toy Museum in the World.” This may not be true, but it certainly contains a massive collection of toys. It is the personal collection and labor of love of the museum’s owner, Mr. Loh Lean Cheng, who has amassed more than 140,000 exhibited items over a period of nearly 40 years.
In addition to puppets, dolls, balls, trains, cars, teddy bears, robots, and building sets, the Toy Museum of Catalonia has an entire room of spinning tops. There are over 16,000 toys on display at this award-winning museum.
While the Harborough Museum is not entirely dedicated to toys, it does have a unique collection of toys that warrants inclusion on this list. The Harborough Toys are a hoard of more than 200 toys dating from the early 17th century that was found behind a bricked-up stairwell in an England church. They include whip-tops, tip-cats, small balls, and sap whistles.
The Brighton Toy and Model Museum includes 10,000 toys densely packed into four Victorian cellar rooms under the Brighton, England main terminus station. It includes over 60 themed exhibits, some of which are quite specific—Corgi toy vehicles, Halloween puppets, and metal construction sets, to name a few.
The largest toy collection in Mexico is contained within the Museo del Juguete Antiguo Mexico (Old Mexican Toy Museum). This museum endeavors to reinforce ties of national identity by offering a playful space where intergenerational dialogue and interaction is promoted. It does this through toy collections relating to Mexican history and popular culture.
The private collection of old toys in the Suomenlinna Toy Museum have origins ranging from the 1830s to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It includes toys that reflect the games, life, and culture of Finland.
Would you have guessed that there is a toy museum in Estonia? There is! The Tartu Toy Museum collects, preserves, studies and displays toys of Estonians and peoples of other countries together with everything related to playing. The permanent exhibit includes toys that children in Estonia have played with throughout the ages. It also displays artist-made dolls from around the globe and traditional Finno-Ugric toys.
Start a mini spinning top museum in your own home
Start your very own personal toy museum with a Scovie precision spinning top. Our custom metal tops are so well balanced that most can spin for over 10 minutes, yet they are beautiful enough for a top museum display shelf.