We have our family tradition: it’s called “Sunday museum”. On Sundays our family visits a museum or an exhibition. As a rule, we choose something that our kids would enjoy, and as a rule we all find such family trips wonderfully interesting. Our plan for this morning was a Doll Museum visit.
The exhibition opens with a room dedicated to old Russian village toys, very simple, made of wood, straw and cloth.
In the second room the kids recognized various fairy-tale characters, they were reciting Pushkin’s verses and pointing out the Golden Cockerel, Russian knights (called “bogatyr”), Nutcracker and mice, the tin soldier, little mermaid Ariel, dragons and other creatures. The dresses of the dolls were all so ornate and glamorous.
Away from the familiar cartoon characters, a museum cat showed us his favourite part. Following the red cat, we found ourselves in several rooms called “the Forest Kingdom”. The Forest Kingdom looks like a little retreat, it feels like dive into a fairy-tale world of forest spirits and fairies, firebirds and the witch Baba Yaga.
Our Doll Museum visit went on and on the second storey we found dolls depicting the Romanov dynasty and the history of St. Petersburg. Among political-oriented dolls one will find Soviet dolls glorifying the October revolution of 1917 and a three-head monster depicting the biggest problems of present-day Russia: one head depicts corrupt police, the second head is a bribetaker official and the third head is a mafia gangster.
Amazingly, I discovered a new unusual angle to view our history: through hand-made dolls of different historic periods and, practically, through the eyes of doll masters. The Doll Museum visit can be an introduction to our history!
In the end of the exposition there’s an area where we all got drinks (free of charge), sat back, and my kids let off their impressions. Here in the Doll Museum they have an area where kids can draw or play. Paper, colouring pages and crayons were available on the little tables decorated with traditional Russian patterns.
As a girly girl, my daughter is always interested in museum shops. The Doll Museum shop is different from regular gift shops. Here one can find authentic hand-made dolls and toys (quite inexpensive, about the same price as for a mass-produced Matryoshka doll in other gift shops), books on how to knit or sew toys and even a book with sewing patterns for collectible porcelain dolls
My daughter’s pick was a colouring book with intricate patterns and designs, and she immediately wanted to colour one of the pages with a pattern that she’d just seen in the exposition.
One of the museum keepers told us they often arrange master-classes for kids and puppet theatre performances. It’s easy to sign up for such a master-class and learn how to make and paint a doll, parents are welcome to participate.