One thing about not having much money is that the word “free” has become very important to me. Not only in how I think and live, but in how I search out and find ways to expand our learning. So of course I am always looking for free activities around the area. This has led us on some fun and interesting adventures. We have been on a tour of a candy factory, have made beautiful cultural masks and other crafts, have learned new dances, and been to many wonderful free concerts and music events. Yesterday I discovered it was Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live! which offered free admission to thousands of participating museums across the country. We decided to check out the Denver Museum of  Miniatures, Dolls and Toys.

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I could say I chose this museum because I have two doll loving girls, and yes, my girls do like dolls, but really I chose this museum for my own desire and love. I have been collecting dolls from around the world since I was a little girl. My grandparents and my father used to bring them back for me whenever they travelled anywhere.  I have many, many different styles, most handmade. I remember visiting the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry when I was younger, and being absolutely enthralled with Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, which is a fantastic dollhouse fairy castle with elaborate detailed rooms filled with amazing miniatures including very old antiques, miniature paintings done by famous artists, and tiny furniture and other items inlaid with gold, silver, and jewels. I have been wanting to check out the Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys in Denver since I heard about it a few years ago, so I was excited!

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It was a beautiful day to head to Denver, and when we got there, we realized the museum is in a house that looks like a dollhouse! It is in an old Dutch Colonial Revival home that was built in 1899. The home itself is like a museum with beautiful architecture, antique furniture, and original items such as a leaded glass piece and painted grass wallpaper.

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The old home is filled with over 10,000 items dating back from the 1700’s, through today. There are some absolutely incredible dollhouses there, including “The Someday House,” which is a near exact replica of a house in Denver. It is filled with amazing details, from the magnifecent master bedroom and canopied bed, to the washroom in the basement, with tiny sink and furnace. There are tiny replicas of all kinds of stores, such as a sweet shop, a restaurant, and one of my favorites, a navajo trading post, or tourist shop, complete with tiny silver and turqoise belts and jewelry.

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The second floor of the home not only has more incredible dollhouses, but has a whole room just for a giant miniature circus, filled with tiny elephants, acrobats, and a huge audience. There was also a special exhibit showcasing matchstick castles and churches. This was an incredible display of amazing archictecture done with matchsticks. I have never seen anything like it.

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The retro toy area was also really fun, and brought back memories. They had a Barbie dreamhouse, very similar to one I had as a child, as well as other fun toys from the 70’s and 80’s. The viewfinders (yep, I had one of those too) were a hit with the girls.

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The Native American and Southwestern room were very cool, with many Native American dolls, a tee-pee dollhouse, and a beautiful house called “Santa Fe House” which is an adobe home with very detailed southwestern style furnishings. Beautiful! There was also a room with a train set, and a room dedicated to toys like matchbox cars and legos.

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All in all, we had a lovely time at the museum. Amani loved the picture scavenger hunt, and Ana like the hand-on activities. I would have liked to see more dolls from around the world, as I have in my collection. They did have a lot, but I realized I have almost just as many! This was inspiring to me, and made me want to do something with my doll collection. Maybe I will set up a space to display a group of dolls each month, or maybe set up an online gallery! Maybe the girls and I will have a doll making day! I don’t know, but ideas are spinning, and this is another example of how life learning works. Expanding on interests and love to further education and knowledge through adventure.

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We finished up the afternoon with a yummy meal from one of our favorite Denver restuarants, Annie’s, and headed home; two tired girls in the back and the fading Colorado sun in front:)

Links:

Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys
www.dmmdt.org

Smithsonian Museum Day Live!
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/

Colorado For Free (free activities and goings on)
http://www.colorado-for-free.com/

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