’Small Stories’ at the V&A Museum of Childhood opens doors to astonishing miniature worlds
To anyone who fondly recalls having - or who ever dreamt of having - a dolls’ house, new show ’Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls’ House’ at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London’s Bethnal Green, is just what the doctor ordered.
Featuring a stunning selection of 12 historical and contemporary dolls’ houses of varying sizes from the past 300 years, the exhibition is designed to tell the (fictional) stories of the people living in these houses - a set up that appeals to visitors of all ages. Many of the delicate objects - some are part of the museum’s permanent collection - have been painstakingly restored by the museum’s conservation department over the past two years.
And even if childhood nostalgia is not your thing, this show will also appeal to the discerning, design-aware visitor. Spanning different periods and architectural styles, ’Small Stories’ is a neat whistle-stop tour of the country’s design developments over the centuries, from a Georgian town house and suburban mansions, to a 1960s high rise and a Le Corbusier-style white villa; most come complete with miniature period furniture and sophisticated interior fittings. Highlights include the modernist-inspired ’Whiteladies House’ by artist Moray Thomas (built in the 1930s) and ’Kaleidoscope House’, 2001, by architect Peter Wheelwright and artist (and former Wallpaper* guest editor) Laurie Simmons.
As a contemporary update, the museum invited 19 London-based design studios to produce their own artistic interpretation of a dolls’ house for a special display in the show. Entitled ’Dream House’, the installation serves as the final stop on the exhibiton’s circuit and sees contributors, including Bethan Laura Wood, Peter Marigold and PriestmanGoode, turn their hand to creating their own miniature interiors - a fitting finish to the show, bringing the history of this much-loved toy to the present day.