Dollhouses Donated to a Museum

In 1977 Val Ripley and her sister, Pam, found a collection of 170+ years of their and their mother’s old dollhouses and dolls in the attic of their recently deceased mother. Within the collection were furnished dollhouses of “every period from 1840 … represent[ing] a complete social history.” In addition to this collection, the sisters obtained numerous miniature toys to accompany and accentuate their dollhouses, before opening their collection to the public in 2010. Now 93, Ms Ripley has bequeathed the collection to a Pembrokeshire museum, where a new permanent gallery suite will be created to house it. The gallery will be located at Scolton Manor, near Haverfordwest, and will be funded by a Welsh Government Grant over £75,000.

The dining room in Tregear Manor, which dates from 1840, and is the oldest dolls’ house in the collection; image and caption taken from BBC Article

Recently in my intro to museum studies class, we’ve been spending a lot of time examining how a museum decides what to – and what not to – include in their collection, and how they go about receiving donations. This article by the BBC is highly relevant to this topic in that, while the author spends a large amount of time referencing the personal relationship of the Ripley sisters and the collection, they don’t get into whether or not these items have documentation on their origins. Similarly, they don’t mention what other information may have been provided to the museum receiving the collection. This means that large portions of the information on this collection will be primary hearsay and personal experience from the Ripleys, unless the museum expends funds to pursue their own research on the topic. But with such a unique collection, the fruit of such labor will likely be quite worth the effort.

This post is in reference to an article on BBC News, “Dolls’ House Collection Given to Pembrokeshire Museum.”