Long before the Barbie Dreamhouse, there was the dollhouse. Originally intended for adults instead of children, the first dollhouses were made in 17th-century northern Europe and were meant for display rather than play. These dockenhauses served as symbols of wealth and status, functioning as cabinets and storing small, expensive objects. The “baby house” emerged in 18th-century England. Instead of housing valuables, the interiors featured copies of the owner’s own rooms. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution, when miniatures became affordable and accessible thanks to mass production, that the dollhouse was considered a children’s toy.
Many artists have made their own versions of the dollhouse to explore themes of domesticity, interiority, and voyeurism. Miriam Schapiro and Sherry Brody collaborated to make one, Robert Gober’s early repertoire includes two, and Laurie Simmons both photographs and designs them. Dollhouses are having a moment again thanks to a cultural interest in tiny houses and downsized living. A great toy for kids and adults alike, dollhouses are rewarding to assemble and provide a rich foundation for imagination. Browse our selection of the best products below.
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