Located along the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, about 20 miles outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tinkertown Museum is a funky little place filled with the trinkets of one man's imagination. After years of traveling to county fairs and carnivals to exhibit his miniature wood carvings, Ross J. Ward created the museum in 1983 as a place to house his work and the collections that took him more than 40 years to procure. His motto, "I did all this while you were watching TV," makes visitors question how many hours of television they have watched as they travel through the narrow hallways and 22 rooms, constructed from more than 50,000 glass bottles, metal sculptures, and other oddities. Each room is filled with hand-carved western towns, miniature circuses, hand-painted signs, and quirky collectibles.
Throughout the museum, visitors can use tokens to animate particular scenes. For instance, wooden figurines in the miniature Old West will perform daily chores and antics, while circus entertainers will complete stunts. Guests can also have their fortunes read by Esmeralda or have Otto, a one-man wooden music band, play to their heart's content.
Ward continued to create and build until his death in 2002. His wife Carla is happy to share his talent and vision with the public. To get everything out of the museum, she recommends that you "allow plenty of time and go slowly! Read all the signs."
The museum is open April through November, and admission is $3 for adults. The weekends are the busiest time, but the place empties out a bit around noon. For further information, visit the Tinkertown Museum website.