Technically the museum is called the Plastic Brick Museum, since they cannot use the name LEGO(R). It is also known as The Unofficial Lego Museum. It is located in Bellaire, OH, less than 10 minutes from Wheeling, WV.
My first surprise about the museum, is that it is located in an old school. The Gravel Hill School (built in 1930) to be more precise. The owner, Dan Brown, bought the building and turned it into a place for his ever growing collection of Legos, with room for others to add to the collection. It is in a neighborhood. Just not quite what I was expecting based on what Don told me. Just walking around the old school was a trip down memory lane as it reminded me of George W. Hodgins School in Paramus,NJ. They just don't build buildings like that anymore.
According to Ohio Traveler:
Dan Brown, founder of the Bellaire Historical Society and Toy Museum, boasts to have the world’s largest private Lego collection. Although that may be true, there is one distinction officially proclaimed by the Guinness Book of World Records that cannot be denied – The Bellaire Historic Society and Toy Museum is home of the World’s Largest Lego brick image.Dan Brown and the museum boast several Guinness Book of World Records including the largest Lego brick image:
The Lego musicians perform. It used to be part of a display in a department store in NYC.
and the world's tallest Lego tower (it is shorter now, but used to start in this closet and extend above the roof):
The museum houses a wide assortment of Lego pieces. Here is a giant Lego "painting" of Mt. Rushmore and the Mona Lisa.
Over the years he has acquired pieces from corporations. He has a giant Darth Vader and Scooby Do, but they were loaded on the truck heading to a trade show in Pittsburgh, so we missed them. Some things are donated to him (such as a life-sized Pooh Bear that was from a soldier on his way to Iraq) other items are purchased through eBay and other online sources.
I imagine this private collection (and others) were from kids kids who put them together, but then outgrew Legos or moved out of the house and couldn't take them with them, or didn't have the heart to take apart again.
One of the old classrooms housed a private collection of lions -- from cute stuffed animals to Penn State Lions to toys from The Lion King. There must have been over a thousand lions in this room.
Looked like there was at least one room where kids could build, but many more places where they were told not to touch. That's really hard to do when it all looks so cool!
Overall it is a fun hidden treasure. They are open on weekends. With advanced notice, they will also open midweek. We went on a Friday morning and had the place to ourselves.
To read more about it, check out the story in Roadside America.
It is $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, and $5 for kids. Well worth it if you happen to be in the area.