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Mysterious Penn State doll frightens museum curators

October 27, 2014

Filed under Collections, Community and Domestic Life

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 Around 1948, Alice Milsom gave this doll as gift to Mary Boyer Kelley.   Penn State University donated the doll to the State Museum around 1970.

Around 1948, Alice Milsom gave this doll as gift to Mary Boyer Kelley. Penn State University donated the artifact to the State Museum around 1970.

No, this week’s Pennsylvania Treasure is not a horror movie prop.  Although, it could be. When we first discovered this  doll, we immediately thought of the movie “Pscyho,” particularly the scene where Norman Bates’ real mother is found reposing in the kitchen, a toothy grin on her face, and nothing more.  Around 1948, Alice Milsom gave this doll as gift to Mary Boyer Kelley.

   Penn State University donated the artifact to the State Museum around 1970. We had many horrible theories as to what this doll was made of, so Collections Advancement Project Curator Katie McGowan invites you to read this history of the vestige:

When we opened the drawer and peered inside,
All we could think was to run and hide.
We drew our eyes tight and jumped more than an inch,
We couldn’t help but flinch.

“What is that thing??” we remarked in dismay,
It probably should never see the light of day.
Wrinkled shrunken face – teeth just chips of stone,
Hands curled like claws, chilled us to the bone.

Its eyes were round and filmy gray,
The blonde hair unkempt from child’s play.
But what child would ever play with something like this?
That appears to have come straight from the abyss!

Its history is curious to be sure,
But, unfortunately its condition is poor.
Calcified from 70 years of wear,
This is what happens to a pear!

 

About Pennsylvania Treasures:
In early 2012, The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission launched the Collections Advancement Project (CAP), a program to inventory and catalog our vast and significant holdings of art and artifacts. These efforts are resulting in better stewardship of our collections which represent Pennsylvania arts, culture, history, sciences, business and agriculture. As a component of the project, CAP curators have researched rarely exhibited artifacts and works of art. We are sharing these Pennsylvania Treasures with the public through weekly updates.