Last month, while in Kirkland, WA for a family wedding, I had the chance to visit the Rosalie Whyel Museum in neighboring Bellevue. Sadly the museum will be closing in a few months on March 1st, 2012.
If you can get to the museum before it closes, do so! The collection is wonderful. The highlights for me are the two Izannah Walker dolls, a lovely pre-patent doll dressed in red wool challis, with a trunkful of belongings and a tiny 13 inch patented doll with the molded shoulder-plate. The wooden dolls are also amazing, especially one 24 inch George II era English wooden from 1750-1760 with a large original wardrobe of superbly sewn garments.
Brian was quite a good sport about the length of time I spent in the gallery that houses both the Izannahs and woodens. About the time that I was performing a host of contortionist movements, in an effort to see the seams and hems of the clothing on the Izannahs and George II wooden, he laid down on a bench in the gallery for a brief nap. No, I’m not kidding 🙂 – it was a very slow day and we were the only visitors. Since he was occupied, if not terribly comfortable, I felt free to sketch and make notes to my hearts content.
The day following our museum tour we headed over to Rosie’s Too , which is a second, off site, collectible doll shop owned by the museum. I found a cute, tiny black bisque baby doll and an antique chemise just the right size for one of my Izannahs.
If you can’t visit in person, the museum sells a book entitled The Heart of the Tree, which chronicles their 2002 exhibit of the same name. It’s a lovely book and I didn’t mind paying the $49.95 cover price, but I do wish that it included the fantastic 24 inch 1750-1760 doll that I mentioned above. I had to make do with buying several postcards of her and her wardrobe. They also sell a small paperback souvenir book about the museum called Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art Opening Our Doors to You for $11 or $12, which has a nice photo of their pre-patent Izannah. I did not buy their larger book “THE ROSE UNFOLDS”
RARITIES OF THE ROSALIE WHYEL MUSEUM OF DOLL ART Volume One. It wasn’t so much the $79.95 price tag as it was the size and weight of the book. I just couldn’t face dragging it around Washington, then on to California and finally back to Connecticut 🙂 I may have to break down and purchase it a some point, because it does have large lovely photographs of both of their Izannah Walker dolls.
You can also find photos of both the Rosalie Whyle Izannahs in the article “Izannah Walker – Godmother to Cloth Doll Makers” by Susan Hedrick, Soft Dolls & Animals, Summer 1998 and a photo of just their pre-patent Izannah in “Early American Stockinette Dolls: Part 1- Izannah Walker and Martha Chase Dolls” by Judy Beswick, The Cloth Doll, Fall 1998.
If you would like to read more about the museum there is a nice article on page 14 of the July 2011 issue of Antique Doll Collector.