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MCM opens Get Small: Miniatures, Dolls & Houses from the Museum’s Collection, plus four more exhibits and installations

get small logo GetSmall_LauriesDollhouse_FourRooms_RGB HoleInTheWall_EyeIcon3  IMG_3775

High-resolution graphics for download:

Get Small exhibit logo  |  Get Small dollhouse image  |  Hole in the Wall eye-con viewer  |  Hole in the Wall mice scene

April 30, 2016
Contact: Jonathan Zarov, 608.335.2783,
Interviews available upon request

MCM opens Get Small: Miniatures, Dolls & Houses from the Museum’s Collection, plus four more exhibits and installations

Get Small: Miniatures, Dolls & Houses from the MCM Collection

Madison Children’s Museum was built by dolls, quite literally. MCM’s unique and unparalleled relationship with American Girl for nearly three decades has provided the backbone of the museum’s financial support through the American Girl Annual Benefit Sale of their seconds and returns, which have been lovingly repaired and sold by thousands of volunteers. Without the support of American Girl, and all of the benefit sale supporters, MCM simply would not exist.

Over the same three decades, MCM has built up a collection of dolls, houses and miniatures and will unveil them for the first time in a new exhibit called Get Small: Miniatures, Dolls & Houses from the Museum’s Collection.

The exhibit, along with a number of other new exhibits and installations, opens May 6, 5 p.m. for Gallery Night. A special member opening takes place from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, before the museum opens for public hours.

Get Small: Miniatures, Dolls & Houses from the Museum’s Collection features beautifully handcrafted dolls and miniature environments from around the world, selected from the museum’s extensive doll and dollhouse collection. Several models of MCM exhibits, created as staff designed the new building, will complement the exhibit.

Playing with dolls and miniatures has been a huge part of early childhood for centuries, in nearly every culture around the globe. While some might think of it as just a leisure pastime, doll play helps children develop in significant ways. Playing with dolls and miniatures helps children develop cognitive and fine-motor skills, language skills, nurturing and caring skills, and an ability to practice experiencing strong emotions. Most important, it helps children bring the large world into manageable size, where they can exert some measure of control. This helps them gain confidence in their abilities to solve problems and successfully interact with their environment.

Get Small features over 60 dolls, large and small, including several from the museum’s American Girl collection. Dolls are made with a variety of materials including wood, cornhusks, animal hides, nuts, stone, fabric, porcelain and more. Within the exhibition, children will look behind the scenes at the world of miniatures in five separate doll houses that have been painstakingly restored to their original glory. Two of the dollhouses are replicas of existing houses in Madison. An additional house was made by Madison artist Laurie Rossbach (who manages MCM’s Art Studio), and another by a Madison girl and her father. Additionally, children will have an opportunity to design their own interior environment, moving around furniture, accessories and rooms to create their dream houses.

The show is centered in the Community Concourse (which is always free to visit), but also spills into other parts of the museum, including Possible-opolis, and the Art Studio, where kids will play with miniatures or create miniatures in each setting. In the Art Studio, for example, a new miniature station allows visitors to work on creating miniature furniture, accessories and objects for a community-created doll house.

The exhibit runs through January of 2017.

This exhibit was supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Get Small exhibition was made possible with the generous support of:

American Girl, American Girl Benefit Sale Volunteers, Irmgard Andrew, Evelyn Arnold, Judith Busse, Stephen and Shirley Crocker, Sally Davis, Patrick Gerhardt, Virginia Hayes, Linda Hein, Lee Holt, Lou Host Jablonski, Helen Kuntz, The Alice Marquis Family (Jeanne, Marianne, Art, Bill, Denise, Mimi), Laurie Rossbach, Maddie Shovers, Linda Slepica, and Julia and Craig Stanley.

Hole in the Wall

Hole in the Wall is a new exhibit hidden throughout the museum that explores the world of miniatures. Six different “holes” on every public floor of the museum feature hidden treasures for all to explore with their eyes. Fans of The Borrowers, The Sixty-Eight Rooms and Stuart Little will enjoy imagining what it would be like to live in a small space, behind a wall. This will be a permanent exhibit in the museum, with yearly changes in each hole made by local artists.

Shadow Castle

The museum back lot features the newest, largest piece of art at MCM, larger than the Love Birds sculpture on the rooftop, but much lighter, weighing little more than a shadow. Shadow Castle can be seen and enjoyed by visitors from the museum’s rooftop and Log Cabin yard. This whimsical, fantasy representation of the museum’s shadow includes a flying dragon.

This new art replaces the former Funkyard. With the back entrance now closed to the public, visitors to the Log Cabin will enter from the Pinckney Street sidewalk. Shadow Castle will remain for the foreseeable future, until the back lot is developed into a new play space.

Glow Show

Back for our third year, Glow Show features the neon work of UW-Madison glass students, who have created neon pieces based upon children’s drawings in our art studio. This year, Glow Show will look to the contributions made by MCM visitors to the Lynda Barry Compbook project, and may well feature celebrated images like a house on fire, a pair of scissors, or a bird. Glow Show will occupy the third floor windows overlooking the Capitol Square.

This iteration of Glow Show runs through May 2017.

Sidewalk Surprise

Tyanna Buie is a young accomplished artist/printmaker hailing from Milwaukee who received her MFA from UW-Madison in 2014.  She is currently working in Detroit as an assistant professor of printmaking at the College for Creative Studies. Tyanna’s piece Birthday Party is a printed image of a child’s birthday party, and is reflective of much of her work that stems from her own life.

Birthday Party runs through July 7, 2016.

Twitter:            @PlayatMCM
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Madison Children’s Museum: Founded in 1980, Madison Children’s Museum’s (MCM) hands-on exhibits and programs celebrate and encourage children’s imaginations and the power of play as the cornerstone of learning. MCM is a proud recipient of the 2011 National Medal for Museum Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. To learn more, visit





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