The Welch Museum in Sunfield is truly the motherlode of local and extended history. With over 10,000 square feet of space, it is packed to the rafters with an amazing display of unique and common historical items. Inside you’ll see an 1860’s log cabin, the top of an enormous windmill, a church, a classroom, and much more.
“Something comes in every day,” said Jan Sedore, a member of the museum board.
A recent acquisition, a miniature carnival, is a major attention-getter. The carnival was hand-crafted by the late Clyde McMurphy (1922-2011) of Dimondale and is known as “Clyde’s Fun World.” It consists of 16 highly detailed carnival rides and two very large Disney-type castles. Most of the pieces have lights, move like a real carnival ride, and play music. They spin, they twirl, they rotate, just like the real thing.
The definition of the word “miniature,” in this situation is up for debate, obviously. Most would assume a “miniature” is small and will easily sit on the kitchen table for a child to play with. But each piece in Clyde’s Fun World would cover the entire kitchen table or more. Most stand two to three feet tall.
Despite his obvious skills in art, electronics, and design, McMurphy worked as an accountant for the State of Michigan. When he retired in 1985 his creativity took flight as he began to create a complete carnival in miniature. At the end of his life, the carnival was donated to a museum.
The collection was in storage at a museum that was moving and needed to get rid of some of its holdings. The collection was offered up to other museums, and the Welsh Museum decided that if they took the pieces, they would be able to remain intact as a collection. They rented a 22’ U-Haul and went to pick up the carnival, sight unseen. They couldn’t fit it all in and had to make a second trip.
“We are so grateful to get them, but it was like a big jigsaw puzzle to put together,” Sedore said, about the boxes and boxes of carnival pieces they received.
There had been some damage to the wiring while the pieces sat in storage, but museum volunteers are working to return the power to everything and see the carnival come to life.
The museum has all 16 carnival rides and the two castles on display. Sedore credits volunteers Bob Avery, Doug Schmuck, and Kendel Sipperly with putting in many hours into assembling and restoring the power to the pieces.
The museum is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and admission is free. It’s located at 161 Main Street in Sunfield. For more information call 517-449-6018.