Teddy Bear Museum of Naples
The Teddy Bear Museum of Naples was a visitor attraction located in north Naples, Florida, United States. It opened in 1990 and closed in 2005. It operated as a non-profit organization, and received funding from donations, as well as profit from museum tickets, gift shop sales, and Hug Club membership.
The museum started when Frances Pew Hayes received a small M&M's teddy bear from a grandchild. After this, she started collecting teddy bears and opened the museum six years later, in 1990. The collection expanded to around 5,500 individual bears until the museum closed. Many of the bears were donated from private collectors. In the late 1990s, the Museum was sold to the North Collier Hospital, and the hospital planned to relocate the museum to a new location as part of a new children's hospital. The plan fell through, and the museum was again separated.
In 2005, a year after Hayes died, the museum director, George Black (known among museum staff and volunteers as 'Brownie'), announced that the museum would be closed and all of the exhibits would be sold off. Reasons included rising operating costs, a lack of volunteers, and flat admission numbers.
The main museum building itself was a circular shaped building with a central atrium. An auxiliary building contained a small gift-shop. The museum contained various exhibits, such as a Teddy Bears' Picnic, a parade, a wedding ceremony, a "beard of directors", and collections from around the world.
Teddy Bear Fair
One of the annual events held by the Museum was the Teddy Bear Fair. It was usually held in October and consisted of various activities, such as games, performances by bands and groups, and petting zoos. The fair was initially located at Cambier Park in Naples, but during the North Collier Hospital ownership, the fair was held at the hospital.