Thursday, July 21, 2016

Miniatures and Dollhouses

The National Building Museum is exhibiting Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse. I was so excited about this exhibit because I have always loved miniatures. But I found the exhibit a little less thrilling than I had expected. One problem being the confusing way the audio worked, but I figured that out eventually.

I did learn some new things though: dollhouse miniatures began as a fad in the 17th century similar to cabinets of curiosities that were meant recreate actual homes in a small scale. They were also used as a tool for young women to learn how to manage a household. They were the only kinds of properties most women could own. Gradually over time, they evolved into playhouses for children. Last year I enjoyed reading The Miniaturist by Essie Burton which tells a mysterious story of a woman and her cabinet that recreates her home in miniature.
The exhibit features many old Dollhouses, but what disappointed  me was the strange scale of the oldest houses, for instance a giant copper pot on a small table. Also the dolls all looked awkward and wrong in their spaces (when do they not?)
Downstairs in the manor house
My favorites were the ones from the early 20th century, which had managed to get the scale under control but were old enough to be charming.

My favorite part of the exhibit were the contemporary rooms made by mostly local artists.
This clever one by Bridgett Sue Lambert depicting a camera trained on a mini dollhouse and giant printer printing out stills of the dollhouse and framed prints stacked against the walls. It also had a basement. I would not mind going back and studying this one some more.
I also loved this one called the Exile of Prospero by L. Delaney.

The contemporary pieces really made the show for me.

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