Notes from Puzzle Palace

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

What does it take to build a museum?

An old American frontier cookbook starts the recipe for Bear Paw Soup as follows:  "First kill a bear."  When trying to build a puzzle museum, first buy an extra house.  Realize that you have only started.

Our puzzles might be here by the time you read this. It's time that I post a bit about what we actually did to get ready for their arrival.

We bought a house to store them before we acquired the puzzles.  This house, now called Puzzle Palace Museum, is about 8 blocks from our home - easy walking distance.  In addition to cleaning out the museum to be, we had much extra work to turn it into a proper museum; to wit:

Change out all of the electrical lights for new low UV LCD lights. We installed 140 of these bulbs, and 11 flat panel lights in closets and the garage.  Of these, the house only had 94 original fixtures.  The rest were added to give light to various areas of the shelving. 

Repave the outside seating area and walk to the pool from the road. Remove all non-tropical trees and update the landscaping.  (This place was overgrown and jungle-like).

Build an outside garbage/recycling receptacle and storage shed.  This area was at one time to be an outdoor shower, but there wasn't one here when we bought the place so we added a roof and partially enclosed it.  

We wanted Puzzle Palace Museum to be "Display and Play".  Thus we needed shelves for over 50,000 puzzles.  To keep the cost to a manageable level we decided to buy out Ikea.  We installed 148 2x4 Kallax boxes, 12 2x2 Kallax boxes, 5 1x4 Kallax boxes, 37 Billy book cases, 23 Billy book case extenders, 1 single Billy book case, and 4 short Billy book cases.  All of which need to be assembled.  This comes to a total of 1248 Cubies.  Each book case is held in place to each other using 8 screws per Kallax box.  Every group of 3 Kallax's have 4 wall mounts using over 150 Tapcons in total. 

The workers drilled 14600 holes to install shelves in the cubies.  We installed 4 glass holding brackets per glass shelf using  3/8" flat head wood screws.  The total number of shelves installed in cubies comes to 1879.  

We also used 12 4x8 foot sheets of white skin to cover the seams on the bookcases and the Kallax boxes; 30 tubes of calk to seal any gaps in the Kallax boxes, 24 tubes of locktite to attach over 250' of trim, 250' of corner trim, and 176' of flat stock.

160' of chair rail, over 1000 dowels, and countless molly's to mount all of the Kallax boxes and chair rails.  3 4x8' sheets of peg board and 2000 pegs. 10 gallons of paint, and 32 grommets. 14600 holes were drilled in the Kallax boxes alone. 4 air conditioners and 75 solar panels have been installed.

8 gardeners, 5 tree trimmers, 4 electricians, 3 paver layers, 5 a/c installers, 4 solar workers and 4 general contractors.

2486 man hours.

12 cases of water, 140 Liters of soda, and twenty watermelons were consumed.

I prepared 328 lunches for all of the workers.

One hand-quilted banner 20'x4' proclaiming the name, Puzzle Palace Museum in Pentomino font. (Developed by George - Each letter of this font is made of all 12 pentominoes.)

Two 40-foot containers.

And finally, expect to blow your puzzle budget for the next ten years.  Fortunately my husband and I are on the same page: spend all of our money on puzzles.  This is much more than we originally expected.  We shall plug along with the monster task ahead of unpacking these 739 boxes of puzzles and furniture; curating them, and displaying them.  I hope we have anticipated the correct amount of display space.  Having over estimated wouldn’t be so bad in that we could use the extra space for future additions to the museum.  An underestimate would lead to a small panic.  I think we have room to build into the attic above the garage…

None of this work would have been done had it not been for an extraordinary group of workers that we hired.  For tree removal, we hired Total Garden. (954)237-1814.  The landscapers are our regular gardeners, Earth and Turf out of Boynton Beach (561)477-3202. Academy Electric from Pompano Beach (954)973-9693. Be More Cool LLC.  installed our air conditioning units (561)232-0887. Balderez Construction provided the paver work. (954)907-3407. Tesla Solar (888)765-2489. And finally our main contractor was Chilly Inc. (828)231-6113.  All of these workers come highly recommended.

I have reserved the entire summer for the task of finishing the museum.  The curation will take much longer.  George will be designing an online database this winter.  I shall be photographing all of the puzzles and entering all the ancillary information about each puzzle into a spreadsheet for later transfer into his database.  We expect to get a full-time caretaker for the museum by the start of next year.

And yes, there are bound to be some duplicates.  We have vowed not to sell or trade them for the first three years.  However, any puzzle donations not in this collection would be greatly appreciated, beautifully displayed, and acknowledged.


  1. Very impressive ! I love your dedication and your hard work. Wish you the best :-)

  2. Wow. That bear paw soup must be good eating. You & George are to be commended!