Tiny treasures: Hidden gem in Danville caters to the eye, appeals to all

Published 10:12 am Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Bluegrass Road Trips (1)

Near downtown Danville is a hidden gem of a museum many people know about but may never have visited: the Great American Dollhouse Museum.

When you walk into the museum, you are in the gift shop, which has a lot of miniatures for sale. You could find everything you need to furnish or even construct your own dollhouse, including beds, tables, food, animals, trees, rugs and much more.

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Beyond the gift shop is the museum. The museum has scavenger hunts to enhance your visit. The scavenger hunts would be great for kids to keep them involved and exploring. It was great for me as well because it added another layer to the whole experience, which was really fun.

While searching for the items on the scavenger hunt list, I investigated each exhibit thoroughly, which allowed me to find the objects I was looking for as well as other things in the exhibits I might not have noticed otherwise. There are scavenger hunts in varying difficulty levels and answer keys in case you get stumped.

The first part of the museum is about American history. It is a chronological exhibit starting with a Native American display. Subsequent dollhouses follow the timeline of American history through to current times, which is very interesting. Some of the dollhouses are really engaging because they tell two stories — you’ll see one story on the first side, then another when you arrive on the other side of the house. The second side reveals more about the first story or tells a whole different one.

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The dollhouses are much more than just cute things that are like real life miniaturized. It’s a unique way of storytelling. Each house has a story. Sometimes the story is sad; sometimes it’s funny; every story was intriguing.

After the American history section, you enter Copper Hollow, a village depicted as it would have been around 100 years ago. It’s a complex village with many things to see, lots of different neighborhoods, green spaces and a Shaker village.

Copper Hollow is huge — there are several city blocks worth of displays and you walk on the roads that go through the village, each of which has a different name.

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There are many different storylines in Copper Hollow and it was interesting to see how the story threads were intertwining throughout the entire village.

The attention to detail blew me away. There were areas where I could have just stayed and looked for a long time, because there is just so much to see. It is amazing how people have put together such intricate scenes of every day life.

When you leave Copper Hollow, you enter the Fantasy Forest and cave. It’s really exciting and you definitely don’t expect to walk through a cave in the middle of the dollhouse museum. The cave and forest are filled with fantasy dollhouse exhibits featuring characters you don’t encounter in real life.

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When you purchase a ticket to the Dollhouse Museum, it’s good all day long, so you could go to the museum, have lunch and come back to do more exploring.

I’ve only been to the Dollhouse Museum one time, but I can tell I would discover new things every time I went. There is just so much inside every display it would be impossible to see every detail on your first visit. I liked visiting with someone because we would notice different things and point them out to one another.

There are plenty of places to sit and rest while you tour the different areas of the museum. Tours are self-guided, so you can take as little or as much time as you want. The museum also offers visits for groups and birthday parties.

This would make a great trip for adults or families. There is something for everyone, whether you collect miniatures, are interested in American history, love a good scavenger hunt or just like a good story.

About Amanda Wheeler

Amanda Wheeler is the children and teen services librarian at the Lincoln County Public Library. She has a master's in zoology education from the University of Miami and has taught as an educator at the Cincinnati Zoo.

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