Largest collection of black dolls on display at Museum of African American History

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, is organising a temporary exhibition of the largest collection of black dolls, "I See Me: Reflections in Black Dolls". It features a large number of black dolls, starting from the 19th century and up to our time. It includes both dolls that come from the museum's own collection as well as dolls from private collectors and other establishments.

One of the most interesting parts of the exhibition is the largest number of Leo Moss dolls ever displayed. Leo Moss was a black handyman who made dolls out of papier-maché derived from wallpaper scraps and painted with shoot. His wife made the clothes they wear. He even made dolls with a child's likeness on commission, even painting tears on the face of the doll if the child cried while he was making it.

 The Misty Copeland doll by Mattel

The Misty Copeland doll by Mattel

The exhibition will feature 112 female and 30 male dolls. Among them will be the Misty Copeland doll by Mattel, a Serena Williams doll and the Barack and Michelle Obama inauguration dolls.

 Michelle Obama Franklin Mint Vinyl Portrait Doll

Michelle Obama Franklin Mint Vinyl Portrait Doll

According to the museum, through educational and public programs, it will revisit the 1947 Kenneth and Mammie Clarke experiment. The set up had black children being presented with two dolls, one black and one white, and then asked to choose which one they preferred. What was the result? A majority of the children chose the white doll to be the prettiest and the nicest, based on colour. Topics of discussion on this pervasive question about race and identity will range from where we are today, and what, if anything, should be done in the future?