INSIGHTS INTO PAST GENERATIONS
The dolls in the museum’s world-renowned collection offer insights into the values, manners, and mores of past generations, interpret the costumes and cultures of native and foreign peoples, and reflect the aesthetics and history of the international doll industry.
They range from Egyptian funerary figures (c. 1500 BC) to 20th-century collectible dolls, including 19th-century porcelain European play dolls, international travel dolls, “Whimsies,” American cloth dolls, and rare 19th-century Native American and Inuit dolls.
ELIZABETH RICHARDS HORTON
Not to be missed is the Elizabeth Richards Horton International Doll Collection—one of only two collections in the world to remain intact for more than 100 years—containing dolls from turn-of-the-century celebrities and royals, and Miss Columbia, the doll who traveled around the world from 1900 to 1902.
A rotating permanent exhibition features approximately 1,000 of the 5,000 dolls in the Wenham Museum’s world-famous doll collection. Included are fine examples of both French and German Bisque dolls, dolls of unusual media, unique artist’s figures, and dolls by 19th- and 20th-century American doll makers.
SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THE EXHIBIT
Some of the many highlights of the exhibit are a late 18th-century wooden “Suzanna Holyoke” doll with original costume, late 19th-century bisque costumed mechanical dolls, dolls by Joel Ellis, Grenier and Izannah Walker, and examples of 20th- century collectible dolls by Vogue, Madame Alexander and the Ideal Toy Company.
ORIGINAL COLLECTION ON DISPLAY
The International Doll Collection (IDC), the original nucleus of the museum’s doll collection, donated in 1922 by Elizabeth Richards Horton, a former resident of the Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House, is on rotating display in the museum’s Egbert Gallery. On behalf of charities around the United States, Mrs. Horton would plan an itinerary a year in advance, pack her dolls, and ship them off to be exhibited as a charitable fundraising event.
EXPANSION OF THE COLLECTION
Over the years, in an effort to expand her collection, Mrs. Horton wrote to officials, celebrities, and the crown heads of Europe to request donations to her collection. Many personalities of note responded and the collection still contains dolls from Queen Victoria, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra, Admiral Byrd and Cecil Rhodes, among others.
A highlight of the IDC is Miss Columbia, the museum’s most famous doll. A cloth Columbian doll designed and manufactured by Emma and Marietta Adams of Oswego, N.Y., Miss Columbia traveled around the world by herself from 1900 to 1902 raising funds for children’s charities. She is displayed with her travel diary and souvenirs. In the year 2000, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of her voyage, a reproduction Miss Columbia was sent around the United States to elementary schools with her own curriculum and Web-based journal.