UA’s Gorgas House Opens Doll Collection Exhibit

  • November 21st, 2016
Dr. Virginia Wimberley readies dolls for the display case.
Dr. Virginia Wimberley readies dolls for the display case.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A new exhibit at The University of Alabama’s Gorgas House Museum may bring a sense of nostalgia for some visitors.

Opening today, the Museum will display a large collection of dolls that represent four generations of the Paul Bryant family.

The doll collection, which is part of the College of Human Environmental Sciences Carolyn Thomas Stewart Costume and Textile Collection, includes dolls, doll furniture, paper dolls, doll houses and doll accessories.

There are more than 900 pieces in the collection, including 125 dolls that are representative of cultures and customs from around the globe.

The collection began with a large donation by Mary Harmon Moman Hilburn in 1988 and has expanded over the years with additional donations from faculty, community members and alumni.

The Gorgas House Museum opens its new doll exhibit on Monday, Nov. 21.
The Gorgas House Museum opens its new doll exhibit on Monday, Nov. 21.

There are bisque dolls, nuthead dolls, cloth body dolls, wire dolls, composition dolls, yarn dolls, wooden dolls and more, said Dr. Virginia Wimberley, exhibit curator and an assistant professor in the department of clothing, textiles and interior design.

Some of the dolls date individually to the late 19th century. There is even a doll — the Alabama Indestructible Doll — that was the only doll to be made in Alabama until the time of the 1988 donation, she added.

“Dolls are a very important part of any culture,” Wimberley said. “They allow children to role play future adult roles, do imaginative play. The dolls are part of our material culture and tell about society with the images and materials that are used.”

The Doll Collection will be available to the public during regular museum tours from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Nov. 21 through Dec. 23. The Museum will be closed Nov. 24 and 25.

“We chose the doll collection because not only do many children receive toys at Christmas, but the dolls are also colorful and festive and help add to the atmosphere of our holiday decorations,” said Lydia Joffray, director of Gorgas House Museum. “I hope people can take away an appreciation for dolls in the past as well as an appreciation for the differences and likenesses of dolls from other cultures.”


Lydia Joffray, 205/348-5906,


Kim Eaton, UA media relations, 205/348-8325,

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.