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Collectible babies.
Collectible babies.

Collectors' Corner Museum

Field review by the editors.

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Before the armchair era of online search, 1-tap purchases, and drone delivery, collecting collectibles wasn't such a breeze. You might pore over magazines and catalogs, travel, attend events, make friends with other collectors, and try to beat the ominous ticking clock of "while supplies last." Obsessing in just one collectible arena could suck up a person's free time over many years.

Collector's Corner Museum.
Collector's Corner Museum.

Now try to imagine a lifetime of feeding a hundred different collecting passions -- and continuing to restock that smorgasbord as if the Internet didn't exist.

Jim and Nida Gyorfy run their Collectors' Corner Museum, home to 125 totally different collections of collectibles. The couple opened it in 2003, and have been married since 1960. "We've collected all of our lives," Nida told us. "When we earned money we spent a lot of it on collectibles."

The museum easily goes unnoticed, housed in a one-story building that was a grocery store in the 1950s, "We moved in here, selling for Tupperware [Brands Corporation], in 1975," Nida said. "When we retired from Tupperware we decided -- since we owned the building -- it would be a good place to show everything."

Toy pistols and the Atomic Flash.
Toy pistols and the Atomic Flash.

The museum's collections are arranged behind glass in numbered cabinets: Precious Moments figurines, Ron Lee clowns, coins, stuffed animal toys, commemorative plates, hubcaps, model planes, troll dolls, mechanical monkeys. Some were specifically manufactured to appeal to consumers as collectibles, and some just caught the eye of Jim or Nida. The museum labels 23 displays of items donated by others. "People drop off collections," Nida told us.

We asked if the public's appreciation of collectibles had changed with wider availability through the web.

Nida said: "We don't use computers."

Jim said: "We display many rare items."

Seems so. Maybe we're delusional, assuming everything can be obtained online (for the right price). Jim pointed out a PEZ ray gun mounted in a frame. Squeeze the trigger to fire candy. "Those are hard to find. They were pulled off the market after a kid put his eye out."

At that moment, we decided to eschew verifying claims the couple made about their collectibles. They were the experts. The charm of the Collectors' Corner Museum is the aura of curated rarity and the enthusiasm of Jim and Nida. The last person we wanted on our tour was some know-it-all tapping on a phone for gotchas.

Clockwork clown does somersaults.
Clockwork clown does somersaults.

For example, one collection opened our eyes about the world of fake currency: money crafted into origami, "Funny money" bills and coins used for marketing, and the limitations of some financial investments: "You can't spend these Disney dollars outside of Disney," Nida said.

From a labeled display of Belgian handmade lace hats we learned that "the larger the wings, the wealthier the family."

According to Nida, some of their collections focus on limited editions of a single company's products. "That 8-ft. case is full of nothing but Avon Bottles." Jim pointed out that their collections of small items are kept in drawers -- 25 different "pullouts" that visitors are encouraged to open.

For Presidents fans, the first 31 First Ladies appeared radiant as miniature dolls in gowns. Nida directed us to statuettes and busts of "Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy...all of the classy presidents."

Cabinets filled with collectibles.
Cabinets filled with collectibles.

In a celebrity case, a full body Donald Trump doll -- reality show star era -- was visible through its original box cellophane, behind a Britney Spears and Jack Sparrow.

Other displays pulled together items by theme rather than specific brand lines. "Tribute To Alaska" was a crowded display of stereotypical (yet adorable) eskimo dolls and souvenir igloos. The "Oriental" collection features Asian items. Still other collections celebrate moments in time, with items such as Idaho's Centennial (1963) commemorative plate.

Tribute to Alaska.
Tribute to Alaska.

The couple's prized Barbie doll collection is in the back. Nida said "Nothing but Barbie and her friends and family in there, from the beginning. About 400 examples." It's a pink shrine to the idealized mid-century girl -- original packaging, fantasy houses assembled, little scooters, bicycles and sports cars parked out front.

The most disturbing Barbies are out-of-scale ventures: a hulking 1995 "My Size Princess Barbie," and a Barbie head on a stick, a 12-inch tall PEZ dispenser. "Friends of Barbie" congregate; prom-ready Ken in a tuxedo, princesses and beach bums juxtaposed among product packaging. The hair stitched into plastic skulls looks carefully combed.

Collectors' Corner also nods to masculine pursuits, with militaria and war artifacts -- patches, shells, knives, pistols. A ceremonial box contains a Nazi Luger, and elsewhere we spotted boxes of vintage bullets, and gun oil.

The museum's Feature Room houses special exhibits. "We change that out four times a year. Right now it's Beanie Bonanza - Beanies, Beanie Buddies, Beanie Babies..." Nida said.

While older people thrill to see almost forgotten childhood items, Nida insists that the museum appeals to all ages. "Little ones love the toys, and older kids learn how you can collect something you enjoy."

Collectors' Corner Museum

900 John Adams Pkwy, Idaho Falls, ID
South side of John Adams Pkwy at Barlow Dr.
Tu-Sa 10-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Small admission
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Peter Toth Indian HeadPeter Toth Indian Head, Idaho Falls, ID - 1 mi.
Muffler Parts PeopleMuffler Parts People, Idaho Falls, ID - < 1 mi.
Big Wood Carved AnimalsBig Wood Carved Animals, Idaho Falls, ID - 1 mi.
In the region:
Funeral Home in a Civic Auditorium, Blackfoot, ID - 27 mi.

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