Whether you’re a youngster who plays with dollhouses every day, an oldster who never did, or somewhere in the middle, you will be surprised and delighted by the Great American Dollhouse Museum.
The museum is much more than a common history museum or merely a large assortment of antique dollhouses. When visitors first enter, they’ll notice that the buildings along either side of the winding path are organized as a timeline. They take viewers through the social history of the United States. From there, the museum opens up into the sprawling village of Copper Hollow. All the structures inside are arranged and incorporated into neighborhoods, creating a charming and fully recognized picture of a multicultural community in turn of the century Kentucky.
There are many different kinds of dollhouses in the museum’s extensive collection, all built precisely to 1:12 scale. There are penthouse apartments and abandoned mansions, glass greenhouses and clay adobes. Models of factories, a coal camp, Shaker village, and tobacco warehouse all represent some of the region’s earliest businesses. There is even a fantastical section in the back where you can see a dragon guarding its cave, trolls, fairies, and some bears living cozily together in a tree trunk.
Beyond that, every single dollhouse is overflowing with detail, with perfectly scaled furniture, figurines, and their belongings. Each one has been crafted with such loving attention that every element within reflects a clear intentional choice. When you peer through a window you won’t be surprised to find a figurine of a child who has gotten Easter egg dye all over his cat.
You could very easily spend several hours admiring all the dollhouses and spotting new little secrets. Most of them can be viewed through various perspectives. What appears to be nothing more than a grand antebellum era manor from the front is revealed, from behind, to be a station on the Underground Railroad. Many of the houses are captioned with snippets of dialogue or narration, providing a funny glimpse into the fictional lives of these tiny inhabitants. For an extra fun challenge, you can pick up a scavenger hunt at the entrance and scurry around trying to be the first in your group to spy a teapot painted like a tomato and dozens of other hidden treasures.
It is a fairly magical place, not quite like any other, the kind of place which that once you leave, beckons you back to unlock more of its mysteries.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed on most major holidays and inclement weather (call ahead if it’s snowy). Also closed during the months of January and February.
Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for kids ages 4-16 (kids under four get in free). There are two parking lots, the smallest of which is right near the entrance. Everything inside is wheelchair accessible.
Upon entering the building, visitors will pass through the miniatures store, its walls lined with thousands of items and accessories for the aspiring miniaturist. To enter the museum itself, you can head to the store counter, where the curator is usually on hand to take any questions from curious visitors.