In Focus: Welcome to the Dolls’ House II

What is a doll? This is the second in a series of courses to conceptualize and design “Welcome to the Dolls’ House,” the Spring 2025 Focus Project Exhibition that will ask why humans create objects in their own likenesses–objects to which they relate in intimate, complex, and sometimes troubling ways. Why do we make dolls? And how do our dolls reflect ourselves back to us? Where is the line between creator and creature? Focusing on (but not limited to) North America and Europe from the late eighteenth century to the present, the exhibition will explore the doll as both concept and object, inviting the visitor to engage with the fundamental human desire for “likeness,” both historically and in contemporary life.

At the exhibition, visitors will make their way through an out-sized “doll house,” from room to room. Between “basement” and “attic,” they will encounter a cast of dolls and other humanoid figures, designed for the purpose of likeness and companionship, who inhabit a succession of “rooms,” each dedicated to a particular interpretive theme. This domestic structure will allow for a variety of discrete yet related vignettes to unfold, moving the doll across a varied terrain of cultural meanings. Cutting-edge technologies—including robotic dolls, bionic prostheses, VR and other virtual “play”—will create a truly interactive experience. Visitors to this dolls’ house will be more than mere viewers: they will be active participants—playmates of the dolls who inhabit it. In this second Focus course, students will collaborate with the instructor to continue developing the exhibition’s themed “rooms.” They will work to create and refine object checklists, written texts, and interactive guides, exhibits, and display strategies. They will also begin to construct the website that will serve ultimately as the exhibition’s permanent, online iteration. 3 credits. Digital projects can satisfy the digital project requirement.