As part of a new exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C., twelve dollhouses tracing the history of British domesticity have been lent by London's Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood. The show—Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse—spans 300 years and presents a miniature-sized, up-close-and-personal view of developments in architecture and design – from lavish country mansions, to an urban high-rise.
Displayed chronologically, Small Stories encompasses a stately home, a lodging house, a suburban villa, and a wartime council estate. According to the curators, the "exhibition take[s] visitors on a journey through the history of the home, everyday lives, and changing family relationships." The imagined stories of each house are brought to life by the characters who live or work there—the owners, tenants, children, and servants—as day-to-day life is illuminated through tales of marriages and parties; politics and crime.
The Tate Baby House, dating from 1760, was owned by the same family for 170 years, passed down from mother to eldest daughter. It includes original wallpapers and hand-painted paneling. In the lying-in room all set up for a home childbirth, Joanna, the pregnant doll, is ready with clean linens and a beautiful gold and red cradle for the newcomer.
At Henriques House, it is an early morning in October of 1828, and a crime has just taken place. Phineas Henriques has been robbed. With the candlesticks missing, broken railings, and an open window, the evidence points to an inside job. But the servant claims his innocence...
Whiteladies House is in the style of a Modernist country villa, and was designed by artist Moray Thomas in the 1930s. Here, a house party is in full swing, and the house features chrome furniture, a cocktail bar, and artworks by British Futurist Claude Flight as well as a swimming pool and garage.
The Hopkinson House was built in the style of London County Council’s 1930s suburb, the St. Helier Estate. The interior shows a World War II-era family in intricate detail, poised for an air-raid, with miniature gasmasks, ration books and torches for the blackouts. The children are upstairs packing, preparing to be evacuated from the war-torn city.
Jenny’s Home is a 1960s high-rise, telling the story of young people in the modern city. Here lives a young couple with a new baby, a Jamaican immigrant, and Jenny, a single girl listening to a transistor radio and getting ready to go out for some late-night dancing in her “groovy” new red dress.
Cite: AD Editorial Team. "12 Dollhouses That Trace 300 Years of British Domesticity" 17 Oct 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/797097/12-dollhouses-that-trace-300-years-of-british-domesticity-national-building-museum-vanda> ISSN 0719-8884