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Dollhouse Provides Window to Victorian Life in Kansas City

Wide image of Victorian dollhouse with three stories and seven ornately furnished rooms.
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Lindsey Foat – The Hale Center for Journalism

If you’ve ever moved, you know what a headache packing and unpacking a home can be. Now imagine if you had over one hundred homes full of priceless antiques to pack and transport.

Well, starting Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 the curators at the Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City will begin painstakingly packing up their collection of over 72,000 objects, including over 100 dollhouses, in preparation for major renovations to the museum.

As part of our Curator’s Choice series, Museum Educator Laura Taylor talked about one of the most storied dollhouses on display.

The Josephine Bird Hall dollhouse dates to the late 1800s, and was custom built for Josephine, who was the daughter of the successive presidents of the Emery Bird Thayer Department Store in Kansas City, Mo.

“Josephine’s house is not just a child’s plaything, but it’s a microcosm that can tell us about Victorian life here in Kansas City at the turn of the century,” said Taylor.

The Toy and Miniature Museum will be open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. The museum will re-open as the The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in early 2015.

This doll in the bedroom of Josephine’s dollhouse presumably represented the matriarch of the miniature household. Museum Educator Laura Taylor says that Josephine’s parents would have considered the dollhouse an educational tool for learning how to manage a household.

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