Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Fun in Miniature

Last year the Growler introduced readers to a fantastic annual holiday lights display at a home in Fairfax County.

With Christmas less than two weeks away, it's time to suggest another fun and inexpensive activity right here in Alexandria — one that will be fascinating to children as well as adults.

The Black History Museum is sponsoring a new exhibition, Childhood Memories in Miniature: African American Dollhouses by Sharon J. Frazier and Linwood M. Smith, featuring more than a dozen buildings and rooms in miniature. The exhibition runs from Wednesday, December 3, through Saturday, January 24, 2009.

Sharon Jones Frazier and Linwood M. Smith, both lifetime residents of Alexandria, began working together on their collection in 1994, combining their talents and drawing on their memories of places and people in Alexandria. Mrs. Frazier, a retired registered nurse, developed skills in miniaturization while Mr. Smith, a retired automotive mechanic, used his skills as a craftsman to construct dollhouses to scale.

Their exhibition features a log cabin, stone home, one-room schoolhouse, and church, as well as buildings and rooms inspired by real places in our Parker-Gray neighborhood like a barbershop and hair dressing salon, a medical building, an attorney’s office, and a florist. The time span the dollhouses represent extends from nearly two centuries ago to the present.

The Growler, who attended last night's packed opening reception for the show, is utterly charmed by the love and humor (not to mention the detail and superb craftsmanship) that have gone into these wonderful dollhouses.

Would you believe that the Cranky One experienced a genuine pang of nostalgia at seeing the tiny Big Chief writing tablets on each of the desks in the school house?

The Alexandria Black History Museum is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and suggested admission is $2.