Doll Museum in Buenos Aires

Many little girls around the world lavish every care on their favourite dolls. For some girls, like sisters Mabel and Maria Castellano Fotheringham, their passion for dolls lasts a lifetime.

Some dolls from the collection (photo: Martín Felipe / AFV - La Nacion)

The Castellano Fotheringham sisters, one in her early nineties and the other in her early eighties, have collected antique dolls all their lives and now decided to donate their collection of over three hundred dolls to the city of Buenos Aires. The collection is housed in Casa Fernandez Blanco, at the Fernandez Blanco Museum annex at 1420 Hipólito Yrigoyen Street. Each of the three rooms that showcase the collection is decorated like a Victorian doll house, with miniature tea sets and miniature furniture.

The collection is made up of dolls from the 1870s to the 1940s and includes such treasures as bisque dolls by Jumeau, fashion dolls made in France in the 1870s, Shirley Temple dolls from the 1930s and a Princess Elizabeth doll -now Queen Elizabeth- made in England to mark the princess’ sixth birthday.

The Misses Castellano Fotheringham said that they received offers from collectors in Brazil and the United States to buy their collection but they refused. They said they couldn’t put a price on their treasures. “What are we going to do with so much money at our ages, anyway?” they asked. They decided to donate the dolls to the city of Buenos Aires so that everyone, young and old, can enjoy them as much as the sisters did.

It all started in Rio Cuarto -Córdoba-, where they lived as young girls and were given their first dolls. Years later, the sisters began to trawl through antique shops and auctions everywhere they went in search of dolls to add to their growing collection.  Back then, dolls weren’t popular collector’s items and were easier to come by. One of the sisters said that she was aware people may think they’re rich, but they are not. Both sisters are single and have no children and as Mabel jokingly puts it “Had we had children, we wouldn’t have been able to have such a collection.”

What was your favourite toy growing up? Do you still have it?

 

Sources

Se hizo museo una colección de 300 muñecas antiguas. La Nación, Saturday, July 14, 2012

Donaron su colección de muñecas y la exhiben desde hoy. Clarin, Saturday, July 14, 2012

 

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About the author

Ana Astri-O'Reilly
Ana Astri-O’Reilly is from Argentina, where she lived until five years ago. She currently lives in Dallas, USA with her British husband, but they move a lot. Previously a translator and English and Spanish teacher, Ana first started writing to share her experiences and adventures with friends and family. She speaks Spanish, English and a smattering of Portuguese.
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2 Comments

  • I’d love to visit this museum. A totally unrelated question, are there many people in Argentina with an English surname?

    • I’m not sure exactly how many, but yes, there are quite a few. Most of their ancestors came to work for the railway companies or were Irish labourers or were Welsh immigrants in Patagonia or raised sheep in Patagonia also. there are many English place names, like Temperley, Rawson, or Banfield. There’s a British Hospital and a British Cemetery in Buenos Aires too.