Open house and doll exhibit at first anniversary of Miniatures & Curious Collections Museum
By Christina Stock
The first anniversary of the Miniatures & Curious Collections Museum, 320 N. Richardson Ave., is going to be celebrated with an open house and coincides with the opening of the exhibit, Dolls: A Curious Collection, on Dec. 13, from 3 to 7 p.m.
Elaine Howe is one of the founders and volunteers at the museum, which is housed in the former Cobean Stationery Store. She is a member of the nonprofit Roswell Interarts Organization that saved the building, renovating it and — after years of standing empty — brought back to life as a center for unusual exhibits and creative projects.
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“We opened last year, Dec. 8,” Howe said. “We’ve been at it for one year. We did open for a short period of time for the UFO Festival in 2018 and that was good. Kind of a trial run of seeing how it was going to be like. We are nonprofit, so we don’t get to pay any employees and it’s just the overhead of our mortgage and utilities and trying to keep the lights on with donations and different people giving us money once in a while, which is crucial.
“It’s been really gratifying, we get so many people from all over the world and the visitor’s center has been really great in sending people over and other businesses as well. Comments like — even from our local people — ‘You have to go to Denver or Philadelphia to see something like this, and ‘that’s really neat and it’s a nice addition for Roswell,’” Howe said.
The open house will include refreshments and door prizes. “We’ll have specials going on in the gift shop,” Howe said. “We have a lot of things for children. We were able to purchase the inventory of a toyshop in Tucson and that was really great to get us started. Since then, we’ve been able to keep up with some inventory as we found things. We have a lot of paper dolls and sticker books. Paper dolls are just fun these days. We get a lot of comments about these. We have a lovely book selection.”
Stepping into the exhibit-part of the museum will bring a smile on the face of anybody. A vast collection of dolls in all sizes, shapes and from all over the world are placed and put up in the shelves.
Asked how the museum is able to show such an unusual collection, Howe said that the collection is a contribution of multiple collectors in town, from a friend of Howe’s and from Howe herself.
“My close best friend, Patty Buckley, who comes in from Atlanta twice a year to help with the mini-museum, she was connected with a thrift store in Atlanta. An immigration lawyer had brought in 30 dolls that have been given to her through the years. So my friend bought all of them and brought them in two suitcases,” Howe said.
“Nancy (Fleming) and Brinkman (Randle) have found some really good odd places to find dolls,” Howe said. Both are also members of Roswell Interarts Organization. “I have my own and my sister’s collection, my baby doll from when I was 4 years old. With any of our collections, they come from our community, and we spread the word and people bring in two or 20 of things.”
Those private collections are almost never shown to the public. One very humble little doll has a rough canvas body with a little face painted on and an odd yellowed lace apron. It would be easy to walk by, looking at the shinier dolls that depict traditional Japanese or Pakistani wedding clothing with their refined porcelain faces. This little doll, Howe said, was brought to her by her father from Germany in the aftermath of World War II. Its sell to the Americans might have put bread on the table of a starving family.
Asked how collectors can approach the museum to see if they are interested in showing their treasured collections, Howe said, “We have a book, and we write down the contact information and what people are collecting. They can write us a little note on Facebook, call us and bring a sample when we are open.
“What’s interesting is, a lot of those people drive the direction for the next exhibit,” Howe said. “Because we might not have a plan that someone might come in with a wonderful collection — it could be any number of things and we expand on them.
“One of our shows that will be coming up in the future is The Art of the State. It’s everything about all of the states. The flags and the collectables, knickknacks; that should be fun.
With every exhibit, usually a free creative project is offered to the public, but because of the anniversary party, this will be taking place later on. “This year, because of our open house, we’ll not do that until January or February,” Howe said. “It will be a doll-making, non-traditional workshop that will be led by Miranda Howe. We’ll do porcelain arms and legs, heads, soft fabric bodies and paint the faces. It will be fun. That will be a wonderful workshop.”
The Miniatures & Curious Collections Museum is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit its Facebook page or call 575-208-0662.