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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Longest Party Table in the World, PriestmanGoode

Building a Dream House

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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Inside LASSCO Ropewalk

Super-sizing the killer kitchen

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

Back home in the gallery

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

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

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

Illuminating dolls’ houses

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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'Jenny' in a sitting room of Jennys Home, B.360-2013 (c)V&A Museum, London

Lounge or living room?

Sitting room or saloon? Whatever it’s called, we’ve got plenty of them in the Small Stories exhibition. Louisa in the Tate Baby House is most certainly in a drawing room, a name evolved from its role as a place of ‘withdrawing’ from more public areas. As Thomas Sheraton explained in 1803, “the drawing room is […]

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Installation image of Tate Baby House, W.9-1930. (c) V&A Museum, London

Dearest daughter in law

In the Tate’s fine Manor House, Mrs Johanna Tate has received a letter from her mother-in-law. Johanna’s first pregnancy is a cause of nervous excitement, and everybody has advice of one sort or another. We can read over her shoulder: 12th March 1795 Johanna, Are you confined yet my dear? You must be very large […]

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Doll, c. 1900 MISC.47:4-1979 (c) V&A Museum, London

Meet George Humble. How do you do?

This is George Humble, one of the inhabitants of the Box Back Terrace house. In the Small Stories exhibition, you’ll be able to meet George and the other tenants of Mrs Reynolds’s small but neat South London lodging house. The year is 1900. George Humble has been a tenant of Mrs Reynolds for twelve years. […]

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Grandad Hopkinson

Meeting the Small Stories characters

  Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been in the recording studio, hearing the characters we’ve created for the Small Stories exhibition come to life! From the early stages of developing the exhibition, we knew we wanted to have some of the 107 dolls speaking directly to the audience, sharing their varied experiences and […]

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Wellcome Library, London. Engelbrechts' drawing of an 18th century carpenter shows the many tools of the trade.

The Joy Wardrobe Part 3

On the right hand side of this early 18th century wardrobe, in bold letters several inches high, is painted “Edmund Joy 1712”. Who was this confident inscriber, who claimed this enigmatic piece of furniture as his own? Was Edmund Joy the first owner, or the talented carpenter of this unusual object? Whoever he was, his […]

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