Old West Miniature Museum

Old West Miniature Museum formerly at the Red Barn Flea Market in Bradenton, FL

By John Potter

When I was a student at Ringling School of Art and Design, I think it was 1986, I was looking over the freelance job board one day and saw something about designing and building a museum. I asked about it and was told they intended to remove it since we weren't construction workers.

Fortunately I had some construction background and one of my best friends and classmates, Bob Penney, had a professional construction background. Off Bob and I went to check it out. It turned out that a gentleman affiliated with the Red Barn Flea Market in Bradenton, Florida had, what he claimed, was the world's largest old west miniature collection and wanted to build a museum at the flea market to display it.

We started out with a warehouse that was framed for offices and a big pile of old west miniatures, but we sat down, drew up plans, demolished the office framing, framed out the museum floor plan and set to work.

The project took us about a year and we employed many of our classmates painting backdrops, repairing miniatures, building dioramas and doing lots of other crazy tasks.

The museum didn't last, but Bob and I will always have fond memories of it and marvel that a bunch of students in their twentys actually put that thing together.