Appropriately, you enter this wonderfully singular Warsaw museum through a small dollhouse door. From there, a spread of a few hundred tiny homes unfolds, born from the private collection of one woman, Aneta Popiel-Machnicka, a polish screenwriter and producer. She took up the hobby in 2006 and quickly amassed one of the largest collections of dollhouses in eastern Europe.
The diminutive dwellings on display date between the 19th century and today. Some are handmade by loving parents, others by skilled craftsmen and miniaturists. Only some later models were mass-produced by toy factories, making most of the items unique. And Popiel-Machnicka not only collects the houses but also restores them with her children and the help of miniaturists.
The museum has some incredibly interesting dollhouses in its care in different themes. There’s a collection of tiny schools that teach miniature children, a collection of dollhouse shops that have incredibly detailed miniature products, tiny hospitals equipped with minuscule operation tools, and of course just regular dollhouses that have all the items that you would find in your own abode, but smaller.
Most notable is the small wing with religious houses from southern Europe, mostly Italy. These models were meant to allow children to get accustomed to church rituals while playing, usually with the hope of them becoming a priest, or at the very least to kindle a stronger connection with God. For instance, there is a completely functional Catholic altar, complete with all the items that a priest would need to give a sermon. There is also a set with four nuns and a priest, in which one of the nuns is dead and the model is simulating a burial ritual.
The museum is a fun place to go to for both young and old, even those who don’t necessarily like dollhouses. The sheer diversity allows everyone to find something that they like.
Update as of March 2021: The museum’s artifacts are currently being housed at a Temporary Exhibition Branch, while the main branch of the museum undergoes reorganization. For more information and updates, visit their website.
Know Before You Go
The museum is on the west side of the Palace of Culture in Warsaw. Just follow the signs and you can't miss it. It's open daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. apart from a few holidays (check the website for details). Tickets cost 20 ZPL, with discounts if you are a student or part of a group.