Building One of the World's Great Institutions

Business Plan of the International Toy Museum

Executive Summary

Starting a new museum is not easy. Historically, most great museums have been founded by individuals or small groups of people with significant resources and significant collections of art or other valuables worthy of a museum setting. Only recently have more common collectables, such as toys, been considered worthy of museum display and conservation.

As Maria Montessori, founder of the educational systems that bears her name, said, "Play is the work of the child." And if play is the child’s work, toys are the tools that enable it. The International Toy Museum will recognize, study, display, and celebrate those tools of childhood.

Starting with a one-year plan that culminates in a 10-week Pop-Up Museum in a high-traffic location, the International Toy Museum intends to build a unique and beloved world-class institution that will understand and celebrate toys and play. The impressive leadership team is committed to building in small steps from a humble start-up through a neighborhood-scale operation, to the permanent Museum. We anticipate that journey will likely take ten years or more. This plan describes the first year’s work.

The International Toy Museum is fortunate to start with significant great assets. The International Toy Museum has a great idea, an experienced, active and energetic leadership team, and a world-class expert on toys, playthings, and the impact of play on children. The Board of Directors provides expertise in managing a family attraction, strong financial and legal knowledge, fundraising experience, and deep knowledge of the toy business and its history. The Interim Executive Director is a serial entrepreneur with eight years of successful experience leading nonprofit social enterprises.

This team is determined to build a great institution.

As with any substantial project, there are a lot of moving parts. Work has proceeded since December 2013 on several fronts concurrently: obtaining collections, raising money, building on the strengths of the Board, and finding a location in which the Pop-Up Museum will present its first show.

Based on raising a bit over $200,000, and culminating in a 10-week exhibit in a Pop-Up location in Jack London Square, the ITM has a very busy first year ahead. Our Directors will be taking an active role in fundraising, while the Interim Executive Director also works on donor development.

For our Pop-Up Museum we will be looking for 700-1,000 square feet of space with good walk-by traffic, easy accessibility and plenty of nearby parking.

Collaborations with other area institutions are being developed which will enable joint promotions and the lending of toys for exhibition in the Pop-Up Museum. One commitment is pending, and others are in the works.

By looking at 34 local and similar museums, we feel confident that our plan to attract 1,000 visitors and raise over $16,000 from gift shop sales, admissions and memberships is reasonable. We expect to also generate a lot of local support during this time, including family memberships, corporate sponsors, and foundation and governmental support, which will help spur growth in the ITM’s second year.

So, while we are embarking on a major effort which will require hard work and diligence, we are confident that the International Toy Museum can debut this year, and build the firm foundation it needs to become a world-class institution.

This unique institution will provide great benefits to the community in which it resides, and hopefully, to the world at large. As important as toys are, and have been in each of our lives, there is still a large gap in our understanding of their history, their effectiveness in stimulating childhood growth, and the long-term impact of various types of toys. We intend to create facilities that will help increase our understanding of the impact of toys, which toys provide the greatest benefits to children, and how to build toys that children love and benefit from.

In our time, the era of static glass cases filled with unresponsive artifacts is over. The International Toy Museum will embrace interactivity everywhere, from the Build Your Toy Workshop, filled with safe, fun stuff for building things, to the online 3D modules of the collections. A free App will provide in-depth information on the Museum and its displays. Every aspect of the Museum will enable gusts to dive as deeply as they care to while having fun.

The efforts of 2014 will determine the long-term success of the ITM. We will make this a year to remember.