The Space Farms Museum was the offspring of hard times. When the Great Depression hit the country, local farmers in the Sussex area faced very difficult times. They still needed supplies and repairs. The farmers came to Elizabeth Space’s country store and paid with family heirlooms; firearms, dolls, tools, cradles, cars and other items of local Americana. The family treasures were given in good faith: all parties agreed that the items would be given back when the bills could be paid. In the meantime, they were placed on the walls of Elizabeth’s general store. Visitors began to stop by to check out the animals, the growing display of antiques and Ralph’s collection of Native American artifacts from the local area. This was the very humble beginning of the Space Farms Zoo and Museum.
Ralph Space’s enthusiasm for collecting and history spurred the museum’s growth. Grandma Elizabeth worked in her country store right through its evolution into the current restaurant. Both Elizabeth and Ralph often bartered for museum artifacts.
Today the Space Farms Museum is housed in ten renovated barns, the former Rutgers Experimental Dairy Station. Each barn is dedicated to a type of antiques: cars, tractors, farm equipment, toys, farm tools, motorcycles, wagons and a blacksmith shop. The doll collection is home to over three hundred dolls. The Space Farms antique firearm collection is the second largest privately owned collection in the United States. Ralph Space’s Native American Artifact collection came from campsites on our farm and Ralph’s travels. The doll, gun and Native American artifact collections are housed in the main entrance building.