In Essex, England there is a private dollhouse museum created by Katharina Gerstorfer which contains more than 50 antique dollhouses and 150 dolls. Known as the Puppenhaus Museum it is only open by appointment. At some point in the future the plans are to make the museum open to the public but until then you can visit the museum’s collection virtually on the online website. At the museum website you will find more than 1500 images online with descriptions of each dollhouse and doll and stories of the lives of the dollhouse family in each home created by Katharina Gerstorfer that brings each house to life.
Most of the dollhouses date from the period 1850 to 1940 and are housed in an extension next to the Epping House in Essex. Each house is decorated according to period and is complete with doll families. Katharina Gerstorfer collected the dollhouses over the years and has restored them with authentic details and miniatures. All the original furniture and accessories were repaired and used when possible. Katharina has made restoring the dollhouses her passion and admits to working right through the night to perfect a new dollhouse restoration project. Her goal for the museum is to make it a public collection where children can learn about earlier generations through the historic dollhouses and delight in the miniatures. Katharina expects that adults will be fascinated by the miniature world she has created as she states, “Nothing is so fascinating as the image of reality or the past in miniature. Many observers of the dollhouses let their thoughts get carried away.”
In addition to dollhouses and dolls the museum is also home to a large number of books about dollhouses and dolls. The goal is for these books to be housed in a room set aside for reading so that children and adults can comfortably enjoy the books when visiting the museum.
One of the many dollhouses available for viewing is the Rectory Cottage 1879 where you see antique tin crockery, and a large dining room called the Adam’s Room. The fretsaw furniture in the dollhouse is from approximately 1890 and there is a beautiful original miniature oil painting of an English sailing ship on display. In the kitchen the room is set up to illustrate baking day and Mrs. Bolton the cook is also producing a wonderful looking Yorkshire pudding. The dollhouse is a testament to the unfailing attention to detail provided by its restorer.
After visiting the virtual museum be sure to sign the guestbook at the museum website and let Katharina know just how much you enjoyed her dollhouses. Check back for new additions to the museum and for news on when the museum will open to the public.