Where Have All the Dolls Gone? – Doll Museums in Australia


Part One

Just the other day I read a blog post entitled “The Last Doll Museum in Paris is Cleaning Out its  Closet (and here’s why you should care.)

The story is about  the Musée de la Poupée; a private doll museum in Paris. I’ve never visited this museum because obviously I live too far away but it started me thinking about other doll museums I have visited or wanted to visit and if any of them are still around. Of course many museums have sections on childhood that feature dolls and toys but I went googling for museums specifically for dolls and here is what I found.

Doll Museums in Australia

South Australia

One that I visited after it first opened in 1999 is “River Dolls” in Goolwa, South Australia. I haven’t been to Goolwa in years but I was happy to find when I googled it that the place is still there. River Dolls is also a shop selling dolls, bears, toys and sweets which may be how the collection has managed to survive. Goolwa is something of a tourist destination located at the mouth of the Murray River and there are other attractions like houseboats, steam engines and another museum.  I will have to try to pay a visit to Goolwa again one day. David and I sometimes used to drive there when we lived in South Australia.

Another doll museum I visited was in South Australia’s “Cornish Triangle” where we often used to go on steam train trips. I can’t recall now which town the museum was in Wallaroo, Moonta or Kadina. It may have been part of the Kadina Heritage Museum. I’m a fan of regional museums and social history and I will often visit them to learn a bit about the places I am visiting. Anyway I remember a room full of dolls in display cases. They looked a bit unloved and some had fallen over. I really wanted to get in there and tidy them up.

Victoria

Then I searched for doll museums in Victoria. There used to be two in Ballarat. I don’t recall that I visited either but I think Naomi did. Golda’s World of Dolls on Eureka Street is recorded as being permanently closed and according to some collectors on the Facebook doll sites I follow it has been gone for a very long time.

I did find one I had not heard about. “Bev’s Wonder World of Dolls” in Morwell in the Gippsland area. That one is going on the list to visit next time Naomi and I do a road trip in Victoria.

New South Wales

In New South Wales a search came up with the Gerogery Doll Museum. I had to look this up, it is a small town just off the Hume Highway, the main route between Melbourne and Sydney. The Visit NSW website had a page about it with a picture. It said that there were over 1600 antique and modern dolls, plus teddies and a Micky Mouse collection. This place sounds worth a visit despite the Google review which said.

Nice place to have a break and stretch your legs, owner’s are lovely, and the creepy dolls are a bonus

As  a doll lover I object to the word creepy. I do find it odd that so many people find dolls creepy. There is even a word for it  Pediophobia.

Also in New South Wales my search turned up “Little Darlings” a doll museum and coffee shop  in a town called Darawank which is almost half way between Newcastle and Port Macquarie. It too had a Google review which did not reveal much about what there is to see apart from Elvis!

Fun for the whole family amazing collection of Elvis and dolls! Afternoon tea in the garden as Superb a good day trip! Highly recommended from a family in Sydney!!

Further research turned up a Facebook page where I discovered that there are over 5,000 dolls and bears on display and a doll repair service is available as well as light lunches and teas in the cafe.

A place we have visited is the Toy and Railway Museum in Leura in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. This is in an old house and has railway memorabilia and model trains outside and dolls and toys inside. I looked through my photos of this holiday and although I have pictures of the building and the railways I don’t have any of the dolls and toys. Either we were not allowed to take photos or it was too dark inside without a flash. Here is a photo of the museum.

Leuralla, the mansion where the Toy and Railway Museum is housed.

One of the things I have noticed that many of these museums have in common is that they are private collections and that the owners are mostly older collectors. The reviews that I found were mostly one or two years old so I can’t say if any of the museums are still open. I may contact the owners and see if they are so I can report back.

As this post has become rather long I’ll continue my research and list museums in the other Australian states in another post.

Doll Museum Links:

http://www.museedelapoupeeparis.com/?lang=fr

http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/the-murray/attractions/gerogery-doll-museum

http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2008/01/17/2140374.htm

http://www.riverdolls.com.au/

http://www.toyandrailwaymuseum.com.au/

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6 comments

  1. Wow, this hits close to home, a vintage toy store two cities (Poway),over closed before I could even get to see it,.. high rent/not enough business drove it up-state to an other city, might as well be an other country as California is big enough to be it’s own country. As my husband is being forced to retire it will be more cost effective to down size my collection to only dolls I love or have history. I may still rescue poor dollies from the thrift shop or volunteer or join a club, who knows. However , one things for certain after 2018.. If I am on e-bay it will be selling.. not buying. If I’d won the lottery/Publishers sweapstakes I’d do a “doll hoarders exchange” or a doll swap..I gave some of my duplicates and MIB’s to friends and charities. After fourty years of collecting I guess I am retiring and if I can find them open, looking for museums because they desperately need our support.

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  2. I think this must happen to all small museums and even some bigger ones. You never go to a museum and find young people running it. History only seems to interest older people who think it important to preserve the memories for future generations. I dread to think what the millennials will think needs to be preserved. The mind boggles doesn’t it? A museum about the digital age and whole cases full of Pokémon’s with “Do not touch!” flashing up on your digital hand held gadget when you get too close to the case. The museum will be sterilised white inside or it might have red feature walls. If Amazing Amy has survived her terrible illness and no longer requires medicine maybe she will be in a millennial’s museum. Maybe there will be those awful dolls with the button eyes or the ones with the big heads and little bodies. Have I made it sound horrible?

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  3. I had to quit laughing first! Maybe we will have virtual museums like there are virtual tours of homes on-line for real estate before you buy. Maybe you can bid on some items to finance the cost. Or we can have a custom made collection we don’t have to store. Someone else has the items in a warehouse, we request which dolls to arrange/display..they take a picture and you can either get framed prints or,wallpaper or printed pillows..skys the limit.
    t

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