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Ohio frog museum is hands-on fun

By Mary Beth Breckenridge • Jan 27, 2017 at 5:00 PM

TOLEDO — Most collectors are motivated by passion.

Amy Adler is motivated by civic pride.

Adler is the proprietor of the Frogtown Froggy Museum, a cheerfully quirky collection of all things frog-related. “I just thought if Toledo’s (nickname is) Frogtown, they need a frog museum,” she explained.

Simple enough.

Don’t expect scientific displays or historical context here. This is a kid-friendly museum filled with things just waiting to be played with.

The genial Adler is a retired children’s librarian, and her love of kids is apparent. She created the museum with them in mind and filled it with stuffed toys, figurines, games, novelties and pretty much anything else with a frog connection.

It is, she said, “my little expensive hobby.”

Adler got the inspiration for the museum about 15 years ago, when the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo commissioned artists to paint frog statues as public art. The project played off the city’s nickname, Frogtown, a reference to its original swampy surroundings.

She sold her house, bought a cheaper one and used the earnings to open the nonprofit museum.

“I started combing every secondhand shop, every garage sale,” she said. She populated the museum with toy frogs, glass frogs, wood frogs, frog calendars, frog scatter rugs, even a pair of frog underpants — plus, oddly, a few rabbits. “They hopped in,” she said. “We let them stay.”

The museum was originally situated in Toledo’s downtown and recently moved to the city’s Old West End, a neighborhood of stately Victorian homes. It’s a favorite destination for collectors, curiosity seekers and families with little ones, who are charmed by the whimsical amphibians.

There are frogs in a Barbie car. Frogs sitting at a child’s table outfitted with crayons and coloring books. A frog nutcracker. A frog squirt gun. A stuffed version of the top-hatted cartoon crooner Michigan J. Frog (“Hello, my baby … “).

A display case holds a collection of miniature frogs, donated by the family of a collector who died. The glass and ceramic figurines are some of the few items in the museum that aren’t meant to be touched.

Otherwise, Adler welcomes hands-on contact. One young visitor, she said, lined up all the singing frogs and turned them on at the same time, creating a gyrating, shimmying cacophony.

The museum is in an old house, so it has a homey feel. A motion-activated frog greets visitors with a croak. In the main room, a wicker couch and chairs — filled with frogs, of course — are arranged near a fireplace adorned with faux frog tiles.

On the mantel is a fish bowl that once held the museum’s only living specimen, an African dwarf frog named Fariji. His name is still spelled out on the container, even though he has gone on to the big frog pond in the sky.

Most of the museum’s contents were purchased by Adler, but some have been donated. And she never turns away those gifts.

“We don’t really look at any frog and say, ‘We’re not having you,’€‰” she said.

Sometimes she will even let a frog go if a collector is interested in buying. As long as it’s easily replaced, she’s happy to give up a frog to someone who wants it.

Don’t ask which is her favorite, though. If she says it out loud, the others might get upset, she said with mock consternation.

She loves them all, and she hopes her visitors will, too.

After all, the whole point of the museum is just to make people smile.

“If you don’t like corny in this museum,” she said, “you’re in trouble.”

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©2017 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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