The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., has a dollhouse exhibit that will appeal to both kids and adults.
Get a bird’s-eye view of history. Peek into a home in England circa 1760 that is ready for a home birth or jump to 1930 where a family in the suburbs of London is preparing for an air raid.
These scenes and more all intricately laid out in “Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse.” The exhibit features 12 dollhouses from the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood in London and explores the history of British domestic life from the unexpected perspective of the U.K’s most beloved dollhouses.
“This exhibition is extraordinary and is truly interesting and informative for the whole family,” says Brett Rodgers, vice president of marketing and communications for the National Building Museum. “I keep trying to convince people who don’t think of themselves as dollhouse people that it is fascinating. These are not really toys. Some are, but many are incredible, large, historic objects that tell multi-layered stories.”
Each of the 12 historic dollhouses is accompanied by an audio story. Kids can press buttons to hear some of the dolls tell their stories, which are fictional but historically appropriate and often include real-life dramas of each era. In one house a robbery has just occurred; in another a house party is in full swing.
The exhibit also includes two life-sized playrooms modeled from the dollhouses. One is a Victorian-era kitchen. Another is a swinging 1960s London high rise living room. Kids can try out activities, try on period costumes and see what it’s like to actually step into a dollhouse room.
A final gallery features 24 dollhouse-sized rooms commissioned by the museum and created by American architects, designers and artists. Some of the designs are familiar, some fanciful and others slightly eerie. Some were made using traditional furnishings, with others from materials such as clay, insects, 3D-printing and even Peeps marshmallow candies.
“Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse” will be on exhibit through Jan. 22, 2017. Admission to the museum is $13-$16. For details call 202-272-2448 or visit the National Building Museum website at nbm.org.
While you are there, be sure to check out the Iceberg exhibit.
By Betsy Stein