Mirror, mirror, as you may see ‘em
Who’s the creepiest doll in this museum?
The Evil Queen in Snow White may not have looked as beautiful as her archnemesis, but she’s certainly fairer than at least a few of the creepy dolls on display at a history center in Minnesota, where a beauty contest between nine dolls in its collection is currently underway. Since their talent is being creepy, no one wins that competition, and their scary looks pretty much eliminate any chance at Miss (or Mister) Congeniality. Which one will be named the creepiest?
“The doll I disdain handling is the one with human hair.”
Dan Nowakowski, curator of the History Center of Olmsted County in Rochester, Minnesota, would vote for #5 (see all of the contestants here), an otherwise average-looking doll with long hair confirmed to be human – a characteristic he told MPR News is a sign that the doll was expensive, at least back in the 1800s when human hair dolls were popular. The owner was likely a resident of Olmsted County, since that’s the purpose of the Historical Center – to collect and preserve the history of Olmsted County. Founded in 1926, it began in the basement of the Rochester Public Library, later moving to the Bethel English Lutheran Church and finally to its own building.
“Over time, paint cracks and peels if you don’t manage it properly. Also then you have the kids playing with the dolls for a number of years, they get damaged. So we have some dolls that unfortunately have lost limbs. But it goes with the story of the doll – that the doll was played with.”
The dolls are part of the center’s Material Culture Collection — artifacts from the military, textile, medical and agricultural history of the area – and are not always on display due to their often-fragile condition. That can add to the doll’s creepiness, as one of the contenders is missing an arm and a face. However, a common characteristic of many pre-Barbie dolls is one that inadvertently made these young girls’ toys extra-scary.
“We have some dolls that have moveable eyelids. And when you lift them up, they snap. You can hear the click from the eyes moving up.” (See the video here.)
The nine creepy dolls are on display here, where anyone can vote for their favorite – or least favorite. Locals can visit the center in person and get more information on each doll and see the winner and runner-up on display from October 28-November 2. There’s no mention of any of the dolls being haunted, but that wouldn’t be a surprise considering their age and looks. Perhaps one lucky visitor could win a night in the center with the dolls and see what happens!
The creepy doll contest of the History Center of Olmsted County ends on October 28. Until then, you’re stuck wondering, like the Evil Queen and her magic mirror.
Alas for her. Reveal her name.