At one point the Mott’s Miniatures Museum & Dollhouse Shop located in California had the largest display of miniatures anywhere in the world. The Museum contained dollhouses from a variety of time periods, shadow boxes, and individual miniature
rooms. The Museum was originally part of the Knott’s Berry Farm and was open to the public for more than 34 years but closed its doors in 1998 and the items have now been sold at auction. The collection of miniatures was sold to private collectors, museums, art galleries and retailers. However, there is a sort of virtual museum online due to photos of items that were put up for auction, where you can still see some of the exhibits of what was once an amazing miniature museum.
The basis for what ended up as a museum began in 1911 when Allegra Mott who was eight years old received her first Cracker Jack box with a miniature item inside. This love of miniatures continued to grow through the years as she collected more miniatures. Eventually schools were bringing children by to see her collection. Walter Knott the owner of a amusement park in California heard of the collection and brought the exhibits to California to become part of the Knott’s Berry Farm in 1957. The original museum started with miniature exhibits that were provided by the Mott Family Collection including one called the History of American Living and another called the History of the American Merchant. The History of American Living depicted life in America in miniature through six miniature homes starting with a Pilgrim Cabin and ending with a 1950’s modern home. Three of the miniature homes included replicas of Mott Family homes through the years including an 1865 Civil War era dollhouse, a 1900 Victorian dollhouse, and 1930 bungalow home. Many of the miniatures displayed were carved by Mott family member DeWitt Mott including miniature furniture replicas of Mott family furniture. He also created the Eastern Cabin depicting life in the 1850’s.
The American Merchant miniature collection was an amazing historical story of the growth of commerce in the United States. You could trace free enterprise in the miniature exhibit from trading with the Indians through the development of the first supermarket. In addition to dollhouses, the Museum also contained miniature castles, and miniature items that were so small they had to be viewed with the use of a magnifying glass. Notable miniature items included working musical instruments, folding pocket knives, and small working tools.