Cabinet of Curiosities

The Royal Historical Society of Victoria organises and hosts exhibitions throughout the year which showcase some of the fascinating items in its collection. The Society also exhibits travelling exhibitions from other organisations. All exhibitions are located at the Drill Hall, 239 A’Beckett St, Melbourne and can be viewed 9am–5pm Monday-Friday The Past Exhibitions page contains information about recent RHSV exhibitions. Enquiries to :
or 9326 9288

Two doll faces with the front face broken

The Doll House

About the Exhibition

Date: Until Friday 19 October
Time: 9AM – 5PM, Monday to Friday
Cost: Free

This tiny exhibition, from Heritage Victoria, is housed in the RHSV’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

Brought up in loving and generous homes, many Australian children in the late C19th were free to be wild and cheeky. They became the centre of their household and were both seen and heard. Toys were imported from all over the world for them, although many still swam in rivers, played with sticks, tin cans, cherry pips and scavenged marbles from soft-drink bottles.

But not all were so lucky. Although all children had to go to school from 1872, some, including Aboriginal children, were put to work in factories or as domestic servants. For all children, gender roles were strict at home and at school. Girls were expected to help around the house, and to play more quietly than boys. They were taught needlework and cooking at school, while boys did science and woodwork.

Historical archaeology allows us glimpses of the games and experiences of Australian children from the past. Excavations in Victoria have revealed toys, baby’s bottles, writing slates and pencils that belonged to children who lived in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Doll house display with dolls and artifacts