Our museum’s History Gallery is filled with remarkable historical miniatures, dating as far back as 1742. While many of our visitors are caught whispering excitedly to one another as they wind through the gallery’s walls, others remain silent, reflective and humble. The faded paint, peeling wallpapers, and well-worn fabrics of these pieces resonate within one’s deepest memories, at once familiar and unfamiliar. Objects are worn smooth by now long forgotten hands; the old wood is cracked by time’s unforgiving march. Although the origins of each piece are varied, together these cabinet houses, dollhouses and roomboxes capture elements of our shared childhood experience: the playful imitation of the adult world. Stories of how life once was can be read in these tiny rooms, the everyday objects of normal life – made smaller for smaller hands – now rest here as objects of great beauty.
All of these historical pieces were acquired by our Museum Founders, Patricia and Walter Arnell, collected over the years through various dealers, auctions, and fellow enthusiasts. There are a handful of pieces, however, that came from another museum entirely: The Legoland Museum of Antique Dolls, Toys, and Dollhouses. Located in Billund, Denmark, the Legoland Museum was part of the larger Legoland Park, which opened in 1967. The Legoland Park and Museum were the realized dream of the Christiansen family, the creators of the internationally famous plastic building blocks, Legos. It is a significant testament to the Christiansen family’s vision for childhood creativity that the Danish word lego translates to “play well.” It was this love of play which inspired their antique collection, the heart of which was built around the acquired private collections of Estrid Faurholt and Helge Hess. Although the Park still remains, the Museum closed its doors in 2005. The prestigious auction house, Theriault’s, held a three-day auction in Las Vegas, Nevada, from May 19 – 21 in 2006, comprised of nearly 1,300 lots from the Lego Foundation collection. Collectors from all over the world were in attendance, including the Arnells. Our museum has nine pieces on display in our History Gallery acquired at this auction: The Sparrowe’s House of Ipswich (F. Tibbenham, ca. 1930); Tin Kitchen With Built-In Oven (ca. 1865); Danish Antique Shop (ca. 1900); German Dollhouse (ca. 1885); German Dollhouse With Roof Garden (ca. 1890); Clevendon Court (ca.1800s); Koppel House (ca. 1878); 19th Century Cabinet House (ca. 1885); and Tordis Hus (ca. 1875). Click here to continue reading a pdf of this article >>