Dollhouse Museum Decks the Halls
The Dollhouse and Toy Museum has transformed itself for the holidays, creating new exhibits celebrating ‘A Victorian Christmas.’ Many of the most popular Christmas traditions came about during Queen Victoria’s reign, 1837 to 1901. At the start of the 19th century, Christmas was hardly celebrated in this country; this changed dramatically after Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840. Albert was from Germany, and he introduced the German tradition of decorated and lighted Christmas trees to Buckingham Palace. In a very short time, many homes in Britain had such trees, bedecked with candles, fruits, sweets, decorations and small gifts. The first Christmas card was designed in London in 1843, and within a short time millions were being mass produced. There had been caroling since the Middle Ages, but it became much more popular during the Victorian Era, when groups of carolers went from home to home to sing, asking for food and drink in return, especially a hot mulled cider called wassail. These traditions quickly spread to America, where Clement Moore’s poem ‘A Visit from Saint Nicholas,’ also known as ‘The Night Before Christmas,’ became widely popular. Santa Claus, who had been a part of the folklore of the Dutch colonists in New York, became the red-robed and white-bearded figure that we know today. Also during this time, the Russian ballet, ‘The Nutcracker’ was performed for the first time in 1892 Saint Petersburg. It is fitting, then, that the house where The Dollhouse Museum is located was built in the 1860s – the height of the Victorian Era.
This season’s exhibits includes German nutcrackers, antique tree angels, vintage cards, many different versions of Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas and caroler dolls. The dollhouses are decorated for the holidays, and the Festival of Tiny Trees returns, featuring dollhouse-size Christmas trees decorated with antique buttons, earrings and other small ornaments. A toy train circles a tiny village against a painted a backdrop of Vermont mountains. The Dollhouse and Toy Museum is located at 212 Union Street in Bennington, and is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. It will be closed on December 25 and 26. Admission is $2 for children three and older, $4 for adults and $10 for families. For more information, visit dollhouseandtoymuseumofvermont.com or call 802-681-3767.