Clive Evatt's Blue Mountains Toy and Railway Museum 'Leuralla' has closed it doors to the public for the last time.
Evatt with wife Elizabeth launched the museum in 1983, at the Leura home of his grandfather Harry Andreas. It has become one of the tourist destination locations of the Mountains.
But the COVID pandemic, the fire and the floods, put an end to the institution earlier this month.
It has been almost 40 years since renowned defamation barrister, Clive Evatt, opened his grandfather's mansion as a museum. Mr Evatt died in 2018, aged 87. His widow made the difficult decision to finally shut on May 1.
"I have stayed on as long as I could since my husband died, I just couldn't do it anymore. I haven't had a lot of support from tourism associations and council and it's a major tourist attraction."
Mrs Evatt, the museum director, said it is the "most significant collection of 20th century toys anywhere in the world".
The pair spent decades working tirelessly to build up the collection, while maintaining the house and its five-hectare gardens, for visitors to enjoy seven days a week.
"We bought from the great auction houses of Europe, America and the UK until the museum developed such a reputation that we would be contacted when a piece of interest came up for sale," she said.
An extensive cataloguing process of the museum's contents has started, preparing the tens of thousands of toy and railway collectibles for auction later this year.
She said Clive was determined to preserve his beloved grandfather's home from 1912, after a bushfire destroyed the original 1903 home on the site. The museum was meant to be a piece of living, Blue Mountains history.
"Given his success in setting up the Hogarth Galleries in Sydney, Clive wanted to try something different and set about establishing a toy museum, with great gusto ... while ensuring the house remained in its original condition."
The collection had rare pieces from the great toy manufacturers of the 20th century, including Mrklin, Lehmann, Bing, Meccano, Lenci to name a few.
Iconic favourites like Tintin, Popeye, the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Noddy, Rupert the Bear, James Bond, Star Wars and the original Barbie (the Bild Lilli doll made in Germany) were part of the collection, as well as comics and a notorious section upstairs devoted to Nazi toy propaganda.
"From the very beginning, toys were made to influence children ... GI Joe [showed] the importance of being a soldier. It was not despicable propaganda, but propaganda nevertheless and girls were given dolls .. [for] homely pursuits."
She said the museum included offensive German board games - Third Reich inventions - where you could "roll a dice and decide to bomb or own Czechoslovakia".
"Toys have always been a means to influence children," she said.
"You can't choose what parts of history you like, and I have always seen this as a history museum in miniature that shows changing social and political attitudes of the time."
Modern additions like rare Harry Potter figurines were included, because they could not ignore it as a phenomenon.
"We made an exception... you cannot deny its place."
The house will soon become a private home again. More information on the auction will be made available later in the year.
Destination NSW will need to alter its four signs coming in and out of Leura which showed tourists the way to the popular museum on Olympian Parade.
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