Trujillo’s Museo del Juguete (Toy Museum) is the only toy museum in Peru and the first of its kind to open in South America. Housed in a colonial building in the city center, it contains everything from playful pre-Inca artifacts to nightmarish dolls.
The museum was opened in 2001 under the guidance of Peruvian artist Gerardo Chávez, a successor of the Trujillo-centric Grupo Norte (North Group), a community of writers, artists, and intellectuals that emerged in northern Peru in 1915. The initial collection contained many toys Chávez had purchased during his travels in Europe. Later donations allowed it to expand.
The oldest artifacts, displayed behind glass in a special room, date back to pre-Inca times. They represent civilizations such as the Chimú and Chancay. The oldest and most delicate piece is a toy whistle from the Virú civilization, which existed on the north coast of Peru in approximately 200 B.C.
The rest of the museum contains a wide array of toys from humanity’s more recent history. There are hundreds of lead soldiers from Europe, old Meccano sets from the United Kingdom, wind-up toys, colorful Wild West stagecoaches, Andean dolls, London buses, and much, much more.
And then there are the dolls. They form a nightmarish collection of frightful figures who stare with near-dead eyes, chilling the rational souls of even the most scientifically minded skeptics. It’s pediophobia, pure and simple: the fear of dolls, distilled.
So when the old wooden floorboards start to creak, when the rocking horse starts to rock with no rider upon it, it might be time to check your six. One thing’s for sure: you wouldn’t want to spend the night at this particular museum.
Know Before You Go
The Museo del Juguete is located at Independencia 705, two blocks from Trujillo’s Plaza de Armas (main square). It’s open every day apart from Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday).