Dolls from round the world coming town

By Karen Fallon

A selection of dolls from the Shaanti International Museum of Costumes and Dolls adorned council chambers at its recent meeting on Sept. 26.

Two of the museum’s board of directors, past president, secretary/treasure Raj Varma and Henriette Trautman, assistant curator and certified doll doctor sought council’s approval to open a doll museum at the Malden Community Center, 7860 County Road 20.

This doll is wearing the historical uniform of a British Grenadier.

Currently the collection to be moved to Amherstburg is housed on Wyandotte Street in Tecumseh and contains 3,000 dolls and other related artifacts.

The “high quality pieces” were collected from countries all over the globe including Britain, Italy India, Poland, Africa and America and includes three cases of a First Nations presentation.

It has taken him twenty years and extensive travel to bring the collection together says Varma.

According to Anne Rota, manager of tourism and culture, the museum would be an outstanding family cultural attraction for the Town of Amherstburg and would draw a wide variety of visitors!

The nature of the museum would lend itself very well to our existing cultural heritage while putting to good use the Malden Cultural Center site, says Rota.

Custom cabinets built for the collection have a value of $100,000, while the worth of the dolls is estimated at $200,000.

Once housed at the Malden Center the collection would be covered under the town’s existing contents insurance policy, explained Brenda Percy, manager, council & legislative services

“This is very compelling,” said councilor Bart DiPasquale. “It is quite a collection.”

As the organization’s principle directors are looking to retire in a year or so they are seeking new local members to ensure the wellbeing of the collection.

“I think this a real enhancement to our community to have such a diverse collection, “ said councilor Carolyn Davies, who noted that she had visited a similar museum in New Delhi, India, which housed “thousands of dolls.”

Organizers of the museum are looking to open Saturdays during farmer’s market hours, free of charge to the public. They are also said to be considering appointments for bus tours.

Currently there are no renters of the Malden Center, however, noted Rota the group who plays cards there once a week are welcome to continue doing so once the museum is in place.

“I totally agree with you that Amherstburg will supersede Niagara on the Lake one day,” said councilor John Sutton to Varma in respect to the municipality’ growing tourism attractions.

Council approved the location of the museum pending a review of the lease agreement by the town’s solicitor.

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