Most of these aren’t doll you’d expect to find under a Christmas tree – at least not necessarily this year. That’s because many of the dolls at the The Philadelphia Doll Museum (2253 North Broad St, Philadelphia PA) are considered antiques – while others come from far-away places.
This unique little museum, tucked away in North Philadelphia, displays a collection of about 300 black dolls. Barbara Whiteman, the museum’s creator, started collecting them in the 1980’s as a way to get in touch with her past – and now she shares them with others as cultural and historical artifacts.
The dolls are displayed chronologically, from wooden figures from Africa, to dolls manufactured in turn-of-the-century Europe, when Germany was producing a large number of black dolls, in fact more than the United States. The museum also has “folk art” dolls made with cornhusks and rags, the Roberta Bell American Heritage collection which includes many historical figures, and more recent celebrity dolls and action figures of prominent people like Muhammad Ali and Bill Cosby.
This niche museum showcases artifacts often overlooked in other spaces. But it’s a hidden gem if you are interested in learning more about history and culture in an unusual and personal way.
- Hours: Thursday to Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday 12-4pm
- Admission: Adults $4, Seniors/Students and children under 12 $3
For other Philadelphia hidden/unusual spots, check out the This Philadelphia Museum is not for the Squeamish, or Things to do in Philadelphia: Spend A Quirky Day in PA.
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