About ‘Small Stories’

From 4 March – 25th June 2017 Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery hosts the V&A’s touring exhibition Small Stories: at Home in a Dolls’ House.  We invite you to take a peep behind closed doors and discover the stories of twelve of the Museum of Childhood’s most treasured dolls’ houses, and their tiny inhabitants.

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Tate Baby House England, 1760 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Through stories of the dolls’ houses, which span the past 300 years, visitors will be taken on a journey through the history of the home, everyday lives and changing family relationships.

The ‘small stories’ of each house will be brought to life by the characters that live or work there. Day-to-day life will be illuminated through tales of marriages and parties, politics and crime. Each house will be displayed at a particular time of day and visitors can use buttons alongside the showcases to activate the narration and light up each character as they talk.

The exhibition encompasses country mansions, the Georgian town house, suburban villas, newly-built council estates and high-rise apartments. Displayed chronologically, the houses will also show developments in architecture and design.

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Kaleidoscope House Laurie Simmons, Peter Wheelwright and Bozart, USA, 2001 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The finale of the exhibition is a specially commissioned Dream House, featuring magical miniature rooms created by Norfolk artists, makers, schools and community groups. There will also be a play area with dolls’ houses and furniture for children (and grown ups!) to arrange to their hearts’ content and construction toys to build their own.

Just down the road from the Castle Museum, the medieval merchant house Strangers’ Hall has its own superb collections of toys, dolls and games, including doll’s houses and over 2,000 items of doll’s house furniture. Ranging from an 18th century ‘baby house’ (in the sense of a tiny house rather than house for babies) to 20th century more funky examples, the collection provides an insight into changing times, ways of living and playing. In Small Stories at Strangers we present a complementary programme of events, mini-installations and displays drawing upon these collections.

Visitors will be able to see the newly conserved Norwich Baby House in the Strangers’ Hall Toy Room, alongside delightful examples of dolls’ houses, dolls’ furniture and miniatures arranged for the duration of the show only throughout our period room settings. A special trail will help visitors to discover them all.

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The kitchen in the Norwich Baby House, on display at Strangers’ Hall, Norwich

A full programme of events for all ages linked to the exhibition includes the popular Tuesday lunchtime talks series, Family Saturdays and school holiday activities, and special workshops encompassing everything from drama, art, creative writing and crafts running at both museums.

This blog aims to promote the two exhibitions, stimulate talk about dolls’ house collections and all things miniature, raise awareness of the wonderful Toy collection at Strangers’ Hall, and give readers behind the scenes insight into museum work. Please follow us to receive regular updates.

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