Our friends at the History Center of Olmstad County are asking the public to vote on the creepiest doll in their collection. That inspired me to bring out a few of our creepy dolls.
But first, a little story about the doll collection.
When I was a little girl, I loved to see the dolls at the museum. They were in a glass case, tucked into an exhibit in the corner of the museum. You couldn’t get close to the case, but you could see the pretty dresses on the dolls.
When I started working at the museum, the doll case had been moved into a walkway. Visitors could see the dolls much better. I didn’t pay much attention to the doll case until it was time to inventory the dolls.
As we carefully photographed and cataloged each doll, it became clear that many of the dolls were in poor condition. Most of the dolls came from Agnes Hovde. She actually donated most of the toy collection. Her dolls were…. well loved. Many of the porcelain doll heads were broken and were sporting inexpert home repairs.
The other issue with dolls is that they are often made of unstable materials. Early plastics, rubber, and painted cloth do not age well.
In 2017 we dismantled all the exhibits in the back of the museum to make room for the new storage area and new exhibits. The dolls were carefully packed away and have not been put back on display. (You can see all our dolls on-line here.)
So, today I pulled out a few of the dolls to find a few creepy examples….and was indeed creeped out!
One of the dolls was leaking something from the back of her head. There was a wet stain on the acid-free tissue and she was wet to the touch! She has been packed away for three years, so this was rather disturbing.
I have set her aside for some conservation work, so it was a good thing I opened her box.
It will take some research to figure out what is going on with her.
Here are a few of my other “favorite” creepy dolls:
P. S. We also have some really cool dolls in the collection. My favorite is the WPA Doll and the beautiful dolls in the Helbing collection such as the Alaskan Doll. You can read about them by clicking on the links.