PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Sad News: The Marx Toy Museum To Close

The PopCulteer
April 1, 2016

One of my favorite attractions in West Virginia will be closing on June 30.  The Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville, West Virginia, which opens today after their winter hiatus, will close its doors for good at the end of June.

For fifteen years, the storefront on 2nd Street in Moundsville that houses the Marx toy collection of Francis Turner has thrilled and delighted visitors from all around the globe.

Unfortunately, there have not been enough of those visitors to sustain operations at their current facility.  The sad fact is that we are talking about a toy company that went out of business more than three decades ago.  Kids who grew up playing with those toys are an aging population whose nostalgia can’t draw them to the museum often enough to keep it going.

Franci Turner, the Marx Toy Museum Curator
Francis Turner, the Marx Toy Museum Curator

Sadly, millennials have no connection to the Marx Toys brand and therefore are not attracted to what is one of the coolest museums in northern West Virginia.

Francis Turner started collecting Marx toys many years ago and devised the museum as way to share his collection with the public. A few years later, one of the sons of Louis Marx visited and aided Turner in attaining 501(c)3 non-profit status. A board of directors was chosen and goals for the growth of the museum and its financial support were drawn up.

The board has been meeting repeatedly over the winter and came to the sad conclusion that the best way to continue their mission to preserve the history and cultural significance of the Louis Marx toy company required closing the physical museum which, due to ever-increasing costs, had become a financial burden.

Visitors have three months to say “so long” to one of the coolest things in WV

The Marx Toy Museum will continue to pursue its mission via the internet and social media and in developing traveling displays of Marx toys to be exhibited throughout the country.

The brick and mortar Marx Toy Museum opens today and will continue to operate during their normal hours, Thursday through Saturday, 11 AM to 5 PM,  through June 30, 2016.  This gives fans and collectors of Marx toys a three-month window to schedule a farewell tour of the physical museum.  In addition the museum will host three major events, one each month, in April, May, and June.

The Prototype Room" held many test runs and one-of-a-kind items
The “Prototype Room” held many test runs and one-of-a-kind items

In mid-April, the museum will host a free Community Day featuring a “history of Marx” program and toy demonstrations of Marx playthings at the start of every hour.  In May, the museum will host a Marx Employee Day to recognize the men and women who dedicated their working lives to brightening the childhood of millions.  The museum invites all former Marx employees, their families, and guests to participate in this free event.

In June, the museum will conduct their annual “Celebration of Marx Toys” in conjunction with the national Marx convention held at the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum in nearby Wheeling, West Virginia. The Marx Toy Museum will host a members-only event after closing hours for those individuals who financially support the Marx Toy Museum. At this event museum curator, Francis Turner, will be on hand to provide a look at rare company artifacts, 1-of-a-kind documents and photos, and a general sharing of collector fellowship.

I was going to make a "Happy Trials" remark here, but I got too choked up
I was going to make a “Happy Trials” remark here, but I got too choked up

I am doing my best to look at this situation in the most positive light possible, but I have to admit it’s a very sad development.  Francis and Jason Turner have done a remarkable job and have given so much to Marx toy collectors and the toy collecting hobby in general that we have to pause for a moment and thank the Turner family for all that they have done throughout the years.  Their kindness and generosity in even opening a museum to share their collection is remarkable and should be a model for toy collectors of all types and ages.

I’ve written about the Marx Toy Museum many times (click HERE for a page of links), and I will really miss this place. We will be sure to make a last pilgrimage (or three) to 915 2nd Street in Moundsville to visit this remarkable toy collection and museum.  We suggest you do the same and stay tuned to PopCult for details on the development of the virtual Marx Toy Museum and news on their traveling exhibits.

Old School Toy Convention Saturday

11665639_1003687409664674_2847101346998327020_nSaturday from 10 AM to 6 PM, the 2nd Annual Old School Toy Convention takes place near St. Marys, West Virginia.  This fun little show is “old school” in two senses of the phrase.  First, it is an old school toy convention, small, taking place in one day, with local and regional vendors, plus some live music and cosplayers.  It also takes place at an old school near St. Marys, Pleasants County Middle School, located at 510 Riverview Dr, Belmont, West Virginia 26134.

Jeremy Ambler from The Walking Dead will be on hand, as will Trapper from Mountain Monsters and the crew from Remix Pro Wrestling. The cosplay contest takes place at 1 PM, followed by a musical performance by HARRAH, and then Matthew Elder.

This promises to be a fun day with lots of cool toys changing hands and even comic books and other cool pop culture stuff for sale.  There will also be concessions, tons of dealers, guests and more. Admission is five bucks, two dollars for students.  If you are a toy collector, you should head up Interstate 77 (get off at exit 179 and head North on Rt. 2)  and indulge in this very fun convention.

Stuff To Do

As always, there’s plenty of other cool stuff to do in and around Charleston this weekend.  Below you will find a smattering of highlights.






That’s it for this week’s PopCulteer.  Please note that even though it’s April Fools, all the news items in the PopCulteer are genuine.  Die-hard fans of pranks will want to check PopCult all day today for special April Fools posts that will appear and disappear with no warning.