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A dolls’ house in a bottle

18 April 2012

Everyone’s heard of a ship in a bottle but a house is quite a different matter. 

Amazingly one does exist and is on display at Tara’s Palace Museum of Childhood in Co Wicklow, Ireland.

The house in a bottle is described as being 300 years old, an age which dwarfs every other exhibit in the museum, even the magnificent Tara’s Palace with its exquisitely detailed and furnished 22 rooms.

It isn't the smallest item on show: that honour belongs to a tiny little doll, no bigger than a small coin, which is billed as the smallest doll in the world.

The big, the small and the unusual, what more could you ask for in a Museum of Childhood?

It’s just a shame it’s not a little closer to home but for anyone visiting or living in Ireland, it’s a real must for the young at heart.

Historic dolls’ houses on show in Holland

7 March 2012

It is always fascinating to see historic dolls’ houses and a new exhibition in Holland features some splendid examples from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The XX Small exhibition at The Hague’s Municipal Museum, which runs until the end of this month, has already attracted more than 86,000 visitors, a testament to the phenomenal popularity of dolls’ houses in Europe.

According to an article on the France 24 website, dolls' houses were popular among wealthy 17th and 18th century Dutch and German women, who often spent a small fortune on these miniature works of art.  In fact, the houses often cost as much as their real-life counterparts.

Made by skilled craftsmen and artists, the houses are full of fascinating miniatures, from real paintings to cutlery in pure silver and a library stacked with Lilliputian-sized books.

As well as being something to admire, they offer a unique miniature window on domestic life in a bygone age.

World famous dolls’ houses feature in talk

2 March 2012

It’s amazing how dolls’ houses are so popular all around the world.

One recent talk, in Ohio, featured photos of exhibits from our very own V&A’s Museum of Childhood in London.

The museum has one of the very best collections of doll’s houses not in private hands and it ranges from the 17th century Nuremberg House to the 21st century Kaleidoscope House.

And unlike the residents of North Ridgeville, we at least have a chance to see the collection with our own eyes.

So if you are ever in London, you should definitely try to see this wonderful and world famous collection of dolls’ houses for yourself.

A Diss-tinguished dolls’ house

27 February 2012

Dolls’ houses are part of our history, whether family heirlooms or an exhibit in a museum.

Modelled on the Old Rectory in Diss, Norfolk, the dolls’ house in question is not only one of the most popular items in the town’s museum but also one of its most travelled, having been to the USA and back again.

According to an article in local newspaper, the Diss Express, the house originally belonged to the Manning family, who were Rectors of Diss for many years, and was played with by generations of children.

Eventually it was put into a jumble sale and purchased by a Mr Bennett for his daughter, Evelyn, when she was ill in bed.

As an adult, Evelyn moved to the USA and took the house with her which should have been the end of the house’s connection with Diss.

However, in 1994 Evelyn donated the house to the Diss museum and so it made its way back to its natural home.

Dolls’ house used to train soldiers

12 January 2012

Dolls’ houses can have many associations and some become historical artefacts shedding light on a different age. 

Now a new exhibition in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, reveals dolls’ houses in a different light – as a training device for soldiers during the Second World War.

The Children in War exhibition at the Oxfordshire Museum has assembled photographs, artefacts, memoirs and toys to show conflict through the eyes of children.

It includes Second World War aircraft toys and even, according to an article in the Oxford Mail, a dolls’ house that was used to train soldiers in house-to-house fighting.

We think it’s one of the most unusual uses of a dolls’ house we’ve ever come across and if you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, the free exhibition runs until August.
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