An item in the Stewart Toy Soldier Gallery | Courtesy of Frazier History Museum
The Stewart Toy Soldier Gallery includes more than 16,000 figures. | Courtesy of Frazier History Museum

Many ancient artifacts can be found inside the Frazier History Museum, from Civil War weapons to bootlegger paraphernalia used during Prohibition. And now, the museum boasts more than 16,000 rare toy soldiers in its newly expanded and reinterpreted Stewart Toy Soldier Gallery, which opens to the public on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

An item in the Stewart Toy Soldier Gallery | Courtesy of Frazier History Museum
An item in the Stewart Toy Soldier Gallery | Courtesy of Frazier History Museum

The exhibit is one of the largest collections of historic toy soldiers on public display in the world, and many of the items will be available to touch, feel and play with, as opposed to just being stared at behind glass. According to a press release, visitors will be allowed to browse makers, styles and periods of treasured miniatures and also experience a tiny world of play through hands-on interactive displays.

Many of the toy soldiers were donated to the museum by Charles Stewart of Frankfort, Ky., who has collected the figures his entire life. His personal collection includes nearly 13,000 and represents 114 toy soldier manufacturers — from St. Petersburg and Wm Britain to Heyde and Lucotte.

“Charles’ generous gifts continue the legacy of Owsley Brown Frazier in building a world-class collection for visitors to enjoy in the heart of Louisville,” said Frazier president Penny Peavler in a press release. “The Frazier, at only 12 years old, is becoming home to the best our region has to offer — both proud Kentucky visitors and world travelers who want to learn about Kentucky’s connection to the world.”

This summer, the Old Toy Soldier magazine declared the Stewart Collection to be “undoubtedly one of the most important collections of its kind in the United States, and is one of the finest collections of rare historic toy soldiers on permanent public display in the world today.”

Children and adults alike will be able to touch some of the toy soldiers. | Courtesy of Frazier History Museum
Children and adults alike will be able to touch some of the toy soldiers. | Courtesy of Frazier History Museum

The Frazier History Museum is hosting a special event on Tuesday to open the expanded Stewart Toy Soldier Gallery to the public. You can expect live toy soldiers along with performances from students at the West End School beginning at 10 a.m. The museum is located at 829 W. Main St.

Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville. She's known around town as the Bar Belle and updates her blog (barbelleblog.com) daily. She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."


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