aMUSEments Exhibit

With the acquisition of the Horner Collection in 2008, we have more than doubled the number of artifacts in our museum collections. Starting with "Horner Homecoming" in 2009 and "Can You Hear Me? Now?" in 2010, our exhibition team has been developing thematic shows that illustrate the depth and breadth of the Society's collections. Many of these artifacts have not been seen by the public since the Horner Museum at Oregon State University closed in 1993.


Welcome to aMUSEments!

We hope you enjoy musing through this exhibition as much as we enjoyed collecting, researching, and exhibiting these entertaining relics of our past.

The image to the left is Thalia, the Greek goddess of comedy and poetry. In ancient Greek mythology, The Muses are nine sisters who inspire the pursuit of literature and art.

Themes within this exhibition include Oregon native A.C. Gilbert, "Construction Zone," Corvallis' "Woodcock Doll House," mechanical wind-up toys, pull toys, dolls, games, trains, outdoor recreation, puzzles, puppets, miniatures, books, and more.

Corvallis Woodcock House model in toy exhibition
Woodcock Doll House

Woodcock Doll House

This doll house is a hand-made, scaled-down replica of a real Corvallis house--the Woodcock House, which stood at the southwest corner of 5th and Jackson in Corvallis. The house was built in 1879 for Milton S. Woodcock and his new bride, Emma Simpson. Mr. Woodcock was a lawyer who established both the Benton County Bank and later the First National Bank of Corvallis. He also owned and edited the Corvallis Gazette and served a term as mayor. This scale model of their home was built as part of the effort to preserve this historic house when the land on which it stood became the site of the Law Enforcement Center. In 1975, the house was purchased by Walter and Rose Kraft and moved to a site on Pilkington Avenue.

The furnishings were made a few years later by Dick Kiger. The house is illuminated on the inside by working electric chandeliers.

The M.S. and Emma Woodcock residence is the oldest surviving example of Italianate architecture in Benton County, Oregon.

Antique dolls in museum exhibit


1820 - 1955

Selected from our collection of nearly 1,000 dolls, this exhibit included a wax head doll (1820), a rag doll and a wooden doll (circa 1850), a china doll (1867), Raggedy Ann and Andy (circa 1935), Carmen Miranda (1943), a Teddy Bear (circa 1905), and Ginny Dolls (1955). Elsewhere in the exhibition hall visitors could find Malibu Barbie (1971) and Luke Skywalker (1978).

Gilbert Display Case

A. C. Gilbert

Albert Carlton Gilbert (1884-1961) was born in Salem, Oregon, in 1884 and lived there until he was eight. He returned to Oregon in 1900 to attend Pacific University in Forest Grove.

As a boy he had two main interests--magic and sports. He became quite accomplished at both, performing his magic tricks on stage and holding world records in chin-ups, running long jump, and the pole vault. He also won a share in the gold medal in the 1908 Olympics. Instead of using the traditional spiked pole, Gilbert invented the vault box now used to plant the pole.

Some of the toys the A. C. Gilbert Company made were Mysto magic sets, Erector sets, chemistry sets, a microscope set, tool sets, a telephone set, a telegraph set, weather station, crystal radio sets, and sets of small puzzles. In 1937, he acquired the rights to manufacture American Flyer trains. He was also known for his innovative marketing and for organizing the Toy Manufacturers Association.

A.C. Gilbert Toy Trains

Gilbert American Flyer

Gilbert Green Train

A.C. Gilbert Toy Trains

Mechanical toys in museum exhibition

Mechanical Toys

Various manufacturers, circa 1950-1965

American toymakers created mechanical toys that operated with a wound-up spring in the middle of the 19th century. Later, toy makers replaced metal bodies with plastics and the spring mechanism with batteries. The display shows some of the 45 mechanical toys collected by Corvallis resident Eva Seen.

Every toy moves. The cat's tail turns and makes the cat turn over. The bears rock and pick up the telephone or push the lawnmower. The pig's arms move as he cooks the eggs, the chicken chirps and hops, and the elephant pulls the circus train. The gymnast flips over the bar, the monkey shoots baskets, and the babies box.


Toy Tractor (1930s)
Taylor-Tot Walker/Stroller (circa 1945)
American Ideal "Pennyfarthing" Bicycle (1885-1892) 
Huffy "Open Road" Bicycle (post 1953)
Shaft-Drive Pope Safety Bicycle (1890s)


Footbag or Hackysack


In 1972, two Oregon City men, John Stalberger and Mike Marshall, invented the modern game of hackysack while kicking around a homemade beanbag. After Marshall died, Stalberger continued to promote the sport. He sold the production rights to Wham-O, which retained Hacky Sack as a trade mark. Since then, footbag has become the generic term used for both the bag and the sport.

Chess Set

Purchased in 1956

The game of chess originated in northern India sometime before 600 A.D. Travelers brought the game to Europe via Persia in the 8th century. The design of the chess sets common today originated in England in 1849. Before then, many versions existed.

The white pieces in this chess set represent devas (gods) and the black pieces represent asuras (demons). The two most powerful pieces are the king and his minister (rather than a king and a queen). In Indian chess pieces, the elephant is always the rook, the camel is the bishop, and the horse is the knight. 

As guided by the Ramayana, The white king is Rama and his brother Lakshmana is his minister. The black king is the evil character, Ravana.

Indian Chess