Small Stories reveals the fascinating tales behind some of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood’s best-loved dollhouses, taking you on a journey through the history of the home, everyday lives, and changing family relationships. The exhibition is traveling worldwide with an exclusive U.S. engagement at the National Building Museum beginning in May 2016.
The homes show developments in architecture and design, encompassing country mansions, the Georgian town house, suburban villas, newly-built council estates, and high-rise apartments. Many of the houses, their furniture and dolls have been specially conserved for the exhibition, with around 1,900 objects being restored over two years in the V&A Museum’s conservation department.
During the 17th century, dollhouses were rare, expensive, and handmade by skilled craftsmen often to replicate real residences. Similar to cabinets of curiosities, they were often commissioned by men to demonstrate wealth and status of their households. Some were also used as learning aids for young girls and servants to become acquainted with their household roles. As with real houses, dollhouses have often been redecorated to reflect either contemporary tastes or those of a different age or time period.
Dollhouses slowly developed into toys specifically made for children to collect, decorate, and play with. The industrial revolution opened up the possibility of mass manufacture and houses became a more common and affordable toy for many children.
For more information, please visit the National Building Museum website.