Museum honors the presidents

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, February 10, 2010

“George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are visiting the Story Lady Doll & Toy Museum during the month of February.” This is how Eloise Adams explains the new display of two dolls in the front window of the museum at 131 N. Broadway Ave.

The two historical dolls are on loan to the museum by the owner of Adams Originals, 238 S. Broadway Ave., during February. This month has special significance because of a national holiday and observance, Presidents Day.

The upcoming salute to the nation’s presidents is Monday. Presidents Day was officially established in 1971 to replace observances of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on Feb. 12 and George Washington on Feb. 22. (This month also has the birth dates of two more presidents, William Henry Harrison on Feb. 9 and Ronald Reagan on Feb. 6.)

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Adams said these two dolls with their close resemblance and period clothing were recently purchased at an auction and are “unique.”

Those two dolls are just the latest to be featured in special displays at Albert Lea’s Story Lady Doll & Toy Museum.

This particular place was established 14 years ago by retired school librarian, the late Norma Robson. She was a doll collector who presented programs for area children and became known as “The Story Lady.”

Karen M. Callahan, the museum’s director, said this place has been operated since 1996 as a “nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers.” In an article she wrote for the September 2008 issue of Dolls Magazine, Callahan added that this museum “has become a home to approximately 1,500 dolls and toys.”

The museum is divided into three sections. A gift shop is located in the front portion. The middle portion consists of donated and loaned displays of antique and collectible dolls and toys. For example, there are toy trucks on loan from Don Gross and Roger Lonning, plus several small vehicles representing area firms.

In the third room of this museum are dolls based on specific themes, Robson’s collection of dolls and a distinctive mechanical musical merry-go-round of wood-carved dancing couples created by Andrew Hearth in the 1930s. In the center of the room are tables and chairs for parties, meetings and special events. The room can be rented for tea parties, birthday parties and special events.

The hours at The Story Lady Doll & Toy Museum are Tuesday through Friday from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.