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By Joyce Hemphill (Queen of Play)
I was talking with a friend recently about the Museum’s new Get Small: Miniatures, Dolls & Houses from the Museum’s Collection exhibit. She herself was very interested in seeing the extensive collection of miniatures, dolls and doll houses acquired over the years through the museum’s collaborative relationship with American Girl, but given that her son is “all boy” he probably wouldn’t share her interest. Seriously?
The exhibit is an impressive display of the creativity and craftsmanship that help bring these models to life, but more important, dolls and miniatures are a valuable resource for any child as they learn about the world around them. Children are attracted to small versions of everyday things because unlike the big and oftentimes overwhelming everyday world, in a “small world” they are the giants. This sense of control provides comfort and builds confidence. For a child, downsizing is a good thing.
The exhibit is centered in the Community Concourse with smaller displays located throughout the museum. Viewing these miniature houses and models presents an ideal opportunity to have a conversation about what makes a home. Do all homes look alike? What are some daily routines in a home? Toss in some real life situations for children to solve. Pretend you live in the miniature. Where would you like to have a birthday party? What if you were expecting guests? Where would they stay? Where would you play? Don’t be surprised if your child starts talking about special gatherings that happen in your own home.
After checking out the Get Small exhibit, stay small with the Hole in the Wall experience. Explore the museum for six hidden miniature worlds that can only be seen through a peephole. As you and your child peek inside you might challenge one another with an impromptu game of “I spy with my little eye …” And on the way home brainstorm ways in which the small version is similar to, or different from, the real one.
Remember that the most fascinating aspect of miniatures lies in the details. Take your time as you explore the exhibits and talk about what you see. Ferris Bueller said it best: “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”