Small Stories at the V&A Museum of Childhood

In December 2014 we will be opening the Small Stories exhibition, featuring 12 of our most fabulous dolls’ houses. We’ll be bringing together 1,800 miniature objects including armchairs, four-poster beds, knives and forks, pets and pianos. Plus 107 dolls who all need a place to live.

On this blog, we’ll be sharing the process of bringing a dozen tiny homes and their inhabitants to life. We’ll go behind the scenes at the V&A Museum of Childhood and take a closer look inside the dolls’ houses as they get ready for display.
We’d love to hear about your dolls’ houses and the stories of their inhabitants, so please leave comments as we go.

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At least 75% of the children behaved themselves properly

F R Wilson with a school group, 1920s

Here’s another gem from The Times in the 1920s. The perennial problem of children in museums had arisen in the letters pages, and the newspaper approached Sir Cecil Harcourt-Smith, Director of the V&A, for comment… Children in the Museums Sir C. Harcourt Smith’s Views The behaviour of children in museums in London having been the […]

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There are many worse places in which to spend an idle day

Mrs Neave's House, c1840. W.17-1930 (c) V&A Museum, London

Dolls’ houses have long been at the heart of the displays at the museum in Bethnal Green, and as Small Stories has shown, their appeal never gets old. This article appeared in The Times on Thursday 23rd August 1928, describing the attractions of the museum for children. Arthur Sabin welcomed children, creating displays especially for […]

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No Country for Old Dolls?

Still from the Small Stories trailer (C)V&A Museum, London

GUEST POST: Lauren vonBechmann gives the background to our new Small Stories trailer. One of our main aims of Small Stories is to bring each dolls’ house to life, and what better way to do that with a film? With the help of Peter Kelleher, V&A’s Motion Media Manager, aka filmmaker, we were able approach […]

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The Curious Collage: an 18th century dolls’ house

The final display. (C) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

One of the most exciting parts of redisplaying the dolls’ house gallery has been reviving the so-called ‘18th century room setting’. This intriguing group of furniture, cutlery and kitchenware, wooden panels and dolls has been around since 1877, when it was bought for £20 from a Staffordshire woman called Mrs Thornhill. There are many treasures […]

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Halloween greetings from beyond the grave

The Screaming Skull! Courtesy of Susanna Pinney

All is not quite what it seems in the bustling Pinney household. There are rumours of ghosts that roam the halls, tales of ghouls that scare the staff and sightings of spirits that send shivers up the spines of visitors. This Halloween the Legend of the Screaming Skull is revealed… During research for Small Stories […]

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Building a Dream House

Longest Party Table in the World, PriestmanGoode

As a finale to the Small Stories exhibition, we wanted to create something new. Something that would bring the story of dolls’ houses bang up to date, and reflect on some of the themes we’ve been thinking about when we planned the show. One key idea which came out again and again when Sarah and […]

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Super-sizing the killer kitchen

Inside LASSCO Ropewalk

Wouldn’t you love to go into one of these little rooms and get a closer look? In the Small Stories exhibition, you’ll be able to do just that. We are re-creating rooms from two of the houses life-sized (or thereabouts). You will be able to help out Henry and Betsy, working in the busy kitchen […]

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Back home in the gallery

The mighty Mrs Bryant's Pleasure being carefully moved into place.

Alongside the Small Stories exhibition, we have also been busy re-organising the dolls’ houses in the Museum’s permanent gallery. We were encouraged to re-think this gallery, on the top floor of the Museum, because the Tate baby House, Amy Miles’s House, the Killer Cabinet House and the Kaleidoscope House were leaving for Small Stories. This […]

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They say moving house is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do…

Contents of two houses temporarily packed to travel to South Kensington.

…If that’s the case then we’ve certainly been ambitious with our Small Stories exhibition, which involves moving 12 houses not just around the Museum but around the world for an international tour! But aren’t dolls’ houses much smaller and less complicated to move than the contents of a real home? How hard can it be? Sarah […]

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Illuminating dolls’ houses

Whiteladies House. W.3-1937 (c) V&A Museum, London

Lighting is vital for creating a particular atmosphere at home. Do you want it to be rich or minimal, soft and warm or stark and clinical? Developing our approach to lighting our dolls’ houses, we had to balance safety and protection for these treasured historic museum objects, with finding the right interpretive light effects to bring each […]

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