The Toy Museum at The Chelsea Teddy Bear Company will celebrate its grand opening Friday and Saturday July 25-26th in Chelsea, Michigan. There will be an attempt to build the world’s largest teddy bear mosaic at noon Saturday. Bring your own teddy bears to add to the mosaic. Free tours of the museum and factory will be held at 11 a.m. and 1 & 3 p.m. every Saturday in addition to regular hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun.
Much of the new toy museum — it’s inside the Teddy Bear Co. — is dedicated to telling the story of how Richard Steiff invented the teddy bear and is focused on the evolution of the stuffed animal. “The teddy bear has been the No. 1 toy in the world since 1906,” says Bob Turner, owner of the Chelsea Teddy Bear Company. His company makes a couple thousand of its own bears each year, but stores and dresses 300,000 to 400,000 bears annually because of its partnership with large companies like Gund.
As for Steiff, storyboards at the toy museum tell of how he got the idea for teddy bears from his aunt’s pincushions, which she had sewn with felt and made in the shape of elephants. He invented the first of his bears in 1902 out of mohair and wood shavings. They hit the global toy market in 1906 and 1907 and haven’t relented in popularity since.
“The toy has outsold all other toys every year for the last 100 years,” says Ken Yenke, partner in The Toy Museum. “The reason is really simple. The bear is kind of a furry doll. By being furry and cuddly, you can drop it, hold it, pick it up and sleep with it. It’s something that can be held. … It’s one of the only things to have what I call fourth dimension.” Visit www.chelseateddybear.com for more information on the museum and the grand opening.