At the Dollhouse Museum in Basel, Switzerland, you will find what may be the world’s most extensive collection of dollhouses, miniatures and teddy bears. The variety and craftsmanship will dazzle you. Don’t let the name dissuade you, the museum is perfect for all ages.
Dollhouses weren’t originally the purview of young girls. They were first built for wealthy homeowners hundreds of years ago, so they could show off their estates to visitors and guests without needing to take them on a walking tour. These early models were extremely detailed and elaborate, packed with tiny furnishings, all to exact scale, right down to tiny place settings on the dinner table, and cats and dogs underfoot.
The large collection of detailed miniatures is incredible. The classic dollhouse features an entire home, as you would expect. The miniature displays feature a single room or area, such as a kitchen, or a workshop. The kitchens depict what might be found on a large estate or castle, with dozens of pots and pans, utensils, bowls and kitchen gadgets lining the walls and every surface, so much detail.
All the displays are in large modern glass enclosures, arranged attractively. Visitors can listen to information on their own smartphones or tablets using the interactive museum guide or the interactive touch screens on the info consoles. Some displays include figurines of people and animals, showing them working or playing. Many offer a view into a particular point in time, like iron wood burning stoves, and ladies in period costumes that convey a sense of how (idealized) life was at the time the dollhouses and miniatures were created.
As the art of dollhouses evolved, so did their uses. They became tools to teach children about growing up and the many trades that made up the community. This helped children learn their role in a household, and understand what their parents, relatives, and friends did in their work lives. Dollhouses on display include those for children to play with as well as highly detailed finely crafted houses purely to observe.
The commitment to workmanship and creativity is unparalleled in these tiny artistic reproductions. Each was entirely unique and beautiful, bursting with imaginative detail and all true to scale.
Top Floor Teddy Bears
Once you have your ticket in hand, you will start your tour of the museum by taking the elevator to the top floor. There you will find an expansive collection of Teddy Bears, dating back to the earliest known examples. Over 2,500 teddy bears are featured – the collection is the largest of its kind in the world.
The Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel (Toy Worlds Museum Basel or Dollhouse Museum) is the largest of its kind in Europe with over 6,000 items on display. The building itself is 150 years old and has been fully restored. The museum is fully wheelchair accessible
Guided tours in various languages are available at specific times. They also have a gift boutique full of unique items that will tempt you. If you are hungry there is a restaurant – Ristorante La Sosta. Check the museum’s website for special events like Christmas, when the museum is full of wonderful decorations.
The museum is situated in a great location with many other fun things to do when you are done. Take your time wandering the museum and be ready to be impressed by the Dollhouse, Miniature and Teddy Bear collections.
Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel
Steinenvorstadt 1, CH-4051 Basel
T +41 61 225 95 95
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Check their website for new exhibitions and special events.