Giant Dollhouses on Display for Holidays

National Museum of Play News Release
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 585-263-2700

November 28, 2012

For Immediate Release

Contact: Susan Trien, 585-410-6359,
Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365,

Giant Dollhouses on Display for the Holiday Season

at the National Museum of Play®

 Note: Museum Holiday Hours:

Monday, December 24 (Christmas Eve): museum closes at 4 p.m.
Tuesday, December 25 (Christmas Day): museum is closed.
Monday, December 31 (New Years Eve): museum closes at 4 p.m.
Tuesday, January 1 (New Years Day): museum open from noon to 5 p.m.


Two of the museum’s premier dollhouses, adorned with elaborate teeny tiny furnishings and illuminated by working electric lights, will delight guests to the National Museum of Play at The Strong® this holiday season when they are displayed along with a newly acquired mechanical Santa Claus, beginning
December 1.

The Miller Manor Farm: Boasting 24 rooms, 5 stories, 24 fireplaces, 34 working windows, and nearly 100 electric lights, this elaborately crafted dollhouse is one of the biggest (7 feet long and 4 feet high) in the museum’s renowned toy collections. On view in the museum’s Caterpillar Atrium, the manor is lavishly decorated for the holidays with a twinkling Christmas tree on the front porch and each of 34 windows gaily festooned with their own teeny Christmas wreaths. The many tiny rooms are decked out in their holiday best. Chandeliers, wall sconces, and table lamps powered by real electricity fill the house with the warmth of dazzling lights. Tiny fireplaces make the rooms cozy. And miniature figures of family and servants are busy inside, getting ready for the holidays.

Miller Manor Farm was constructed by hobbyists Tina and Bob Miller of Cooperstown, New York, who spent 16 years (between 1980 and 1996) crafting the extravagant dollhouse.  Bob, a former engineer, built and wired the house. Tina furnished and decorated it, using kits and scrap materials. They used the traditional scale in which one inch equals one foot, and everything—including flooring, clapboard siding, staircase, and double-hung working windows—is handmade. 

Joan Burdge’s Victorian House: Visit the museum’s second floor for a view of still another fantastic feat of dollhouse design. The Burdge House features 25 rooms with three levels, a front porch, a balcony, a greenhouse, a gazebo, and a central grand hall with a majestic staircase and wood-paneled walls. Peer at the potted palms, wicker, chandeliers, antique rugs, miniature organ, and other sumptuous decorations. A snowy outdoor scene creates a festive wintry setting.

Miniature hobbyist Joan Burdge completed the dollhouse around 1990, taking inspiration from a Victorian home located near Rutland, Vermont. She designed and furnished it herself, a project that took eight years. The furnishings include items from Burdge’s own childhood, items she purchased, and items she made herself. According to Curator Patricia Hogan, the dollhouse has been in storage for a number of years and the museum’s conservation team lovingly restored it to its original colors and character, repairing wiring and restoring furnishings to their original condition.

Next to Miller Manor Farm stands a 5-foot Santa Claus mechanical figure recently donated by the Richard and Judith Miller Family of Pittsford, New York. The donors’ parents, Roland and Vera Miller, purchased the figure sometime around the late 1950s and displayed it in their dining room during family events into the 1980s. At that point, the Santa travelled to the donors’ home in Rochester and was circulated among the homes of their children before being acquired by The Strong. 

Miller Manor Farm and the mechanical Santa will remain on view through January 2, 2013.

The Burdge House will remain on view through February 28, 2013. All holiday displays are included with general museum admission fees.


Museum Hours: Monday–Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; 
Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

General Admission Fees (does not include admission to Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden®): age 2 and older $13, under age 2 free, members free.

Admission to Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden: General Admission fee plus $3 for members, $4 for nonmembers, under age 2 free. Entry is by timed ticket only.

Parking:  Free parking is available at the museum for all guests on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that, on high visitation days, the museum lot may reach capacity early in the day. If space is not available on site at the time of your visit, additional parking is available at neighboring municipal garages for a fee. The Strong is not responsible for fees incurred at off-site locations.