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This dollhouse was not for children! 
 
The dollhouse belonged to a woman named Petronella Oortman. Petronella lived in Amsterdam, Holland, in the 1600s. Everything in the dollhouse, including the paintings, silverware, and furniture, was specially made. Petronella ordered the plates and serving dishes all the way from China! 
 
Petronella did not play with her dollhouse. It was a work of art she showed to her friends and business partners when they came to her house. The elaborate dollhouse let these people know how wealthy Petronella and her husband were.
 
This photograph of Petronella’s dollhouse shows nine rooms. To see what each of these rooms was for, read the Fast Facts!
  1. There are nine rooms in Petronella’s dollhouse, including a linen room, nursery, and two kitchens. Can you think of rooms and other features that are not represented by Petronella’s dollhouse?

  • This dollhouse did include dolls, although all have been lost.

  • The room at the bottom right is the dollhouse’s tapestry room. Tapestry cloth, a type of woven fabric, covers the walls. This sparse room is more accurately called the “mourning room,” where friends and family would gather to honor the dead.
  • Next to the best kitchen is the “working kitchen” or cookroom. This represents where cooks would prepare meals, and features a fireplace and sink with a once-working water pump.
  • The bottom floor of Petronella’s dollhouse has two kitchens. The large one, on the bottom left, is the “best kitchen.” Best kitchens were used for eating and displaying fine tableware. Zoom in to see the specially made porcelain displayed in and above the cabinet along the back wall.
  • The room on the right side of the entry hall is the lying-in room. A lying-in room was where the woman of the house gave birth. This luxurious lying-in room features a crib, a bed tucked in a curtained alcove in the back wall, and a folding screen.
  • Behind the central entryway was where the dollhouse’s (lost) garden and working fountain were displayed. The hallway’s floors are marble, and the ceiling is painted in a mythological theme.
  • The central floor of the dollhouse would have represented a home’s street-level entrance. The room to the left of the entryway is the dollhouse’s drawing room, where homeowners entertained visitors. Like the drawing rooms of many wealthy merchants, this dollhouse’s drawing room features an original floor-to-ceiling mural, oil painting over the fireplace, upholstered chairs, a backgammon table, and a portable table (black with a lacquer painting of a parrot) that folds up for better storage.
  • The extravagant room in the top right is the dollhouse’s nursery. The silk screens with parrots, behind the bed and crib, are gilded—painted with a fine layer of gold.
  • The central room on the top floor represents a workroom for the house’s servants. Look closely to see a spinning wheel and tiny wicker baskets. The upstairs of this room is where the maids in a house would sleep.
  • The top left room in Petronella’s dollhouse is the linen room. It was used for storage of things like blankets, sheets, and even clothing. Zoom in on the linen room’s ceiling and you’ll see some sheets hanging out to dry.
alleged
Adjective

supposed or presumed.

Noun

material remains of a culture, such as tools, clothing, or food.

canal
Noun

artificial waterway.

class
Noun

division in society based on income and type of employment.

commission
Verb

to formally order or give permission to work.

curate
Verb

to organize a collection for display, such as an art exhibit.

elaborate
Adjective

complex and detailed.

exact
Adjective

precise or finely detailed.

exclusive
Adjective

limited to a few characteristics.

exterior
adjective, noun

on the outside or outdoors.

fabric
Noun

cloth.

feminine
Adjective

having to do with women or girls.

gem
Noun

mineral, rock, or organic material that can be cut and polished for use in jewelry.

geographic perspective
Noun

a way to understand a topic or area using spatial features and relationships.

intricate
Adjective

very detailed and complex.

marble
Noun

type of metamorphic rock.

merchant
Noun

person who sells goods and services.

mummy
Noun

corpse of a person or animal that has been preserved by natural environmental conditions or human techniques.

mural
Noun

artwork painted directly on a wall.

natural history
Noun
study and description of living things, especially their origins, evolution, and relationships to one another. Natural history includes the sciences of zoology, biology, botany, geology, mineralogy, paleontology, and many other fields.
porcelain
adjective, noun

strong ceramic (clay-based) material.

privilege
Noun

benefit or special right.

replica
Noun

an exact copy or reproduction.

responsibility
Noun

being accountable and reliable for an action or situation.

Rijksmuseum
Noun

large art museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

souvenir
Noun

object kept to remind someone of an event.

specimen
Noun

individual organism that is a typical example of its classification.

status symbol
Noun

object or behavior that displays the owner's social or economic status.

upholstered
Adjective

furniture created or outfitted with padding, springs, coverings, and cushions.

wealthy
Adjective

very rich.

wicker
adjective, noun

construction material made from finely woven twigs.