After 15 months closed, Dollhouse museum now open

After closing around late March 2020 due to the pandemic, the Great American Dollhouse Museum is back open for business and perusal of the more than 200 miniature worlds within its walls.

The museum and shop reopened July 7, and curator Lori Kagan-Moore said the museum has already seen many visitors from several different states in the week since its reopening. She noted the hours have changed – it’s no longer open on Tuesdays like it was for about 12 years. The hours are now 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Only a couple of hours at the museum saw visitors from not just around Kentucky but also Denver, Colorado; Stillwater, Oklahoma; Illinois, and Utah, to name a few places.

“I know I’d recommend anyone to come see it,” said Rosie Morris, a visitor from Nelson County who has been coming to the museum countless times over the past 10-12 years. She said she missed the place, and Kagan-Moore.

Nancy Little, a Danville resident, brought her granddaughter Edith Will, who is from Stillwater, Oklahoma, to the museum for the first time Wednesday. Little has lived in Danville for about eight years, has talked about the museum for a number of years and wanted Will to see it. They eyed the displays, noting the captions and information posted under some of them, and the small details in the scenes.

Some of the miniature scenes are funny, Little said, and some teach about history, like one display she pointed out that teaches that some freed African-American slaves hid and protected those who escaped slavery in their homes.

Kagan-Moore said the displays don’t necessarily get switched out — instead, she describes the museum as a work in progress, with new additions building upon existing exhibits.

“As we develop new displays, they take over what was there and enrich the place,” she said.

The most recent development is a coal camp display, which took about two years to complete. Kagan-Moore said the museum’s primary artist-in-residence, who built the coal camp, is Alma Kiss from Huntsville, Alabama. When she visits, she stays two weeks at a time with Kagan-Moore. Kagan-Moore said Kiss loves to work and, in the time she’s in Danville, she invests herself in her creations and works about 12 hours a day. She said once Kiss was finished with the coal camp, “she immediately started on the next thing,” which will be a medieval quest display currently in the works.

“COVID was a real slow-down for us because she (Kiss) didn’t want to travel, and so we didn’t work on that, but as soon as she was comfortable, man, she was back,” Kagan-Moore said.

Kiss has already put in two weeks into the display and will be back again in September, she said.

She said closing for 15 months also created financial hardship, especially when it came to meeting the museum’s fixed expenses, like property taxes, utility bills, monitoring the alarm system and telephone lines, and maintenance of the property, including lawn care.

The museum and shop have been busy since reopening, and the shop has had “good sales,” she said, and over time, hopefully business will help offset some of the financial impact.

“It’ll take a while, because we’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars, not just a little bit,” Kagan-Moore said.

She said the new hours are up to date on the museum’s website, thedollhousemuseum.com, but some websites have incorrect hours.

Admission prices are:
• Adults: $12
• Seniors: $10
• Kids ages 4-16: $8
• Under 4 years old: Free

The dollhouse museum and shop are wheelchair-accessible, according to the website. The museum shows a depiction of U.S. social history in miniature, and other displays feature a fictional town and a fantastical world. The shop sells a myriad of tiny items for visitors to decorate their own miniature houses and landscapes.

“We’re really happy to be back open,” Kagan-Moore said. “We’re happy to see everybody again. It’s a really fun destination.”