• 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?

      Answers will vary! Bedrooms, bathrooms, staircases, and servants’ entrances are all missing from the dollhouse.

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

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  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    alleged Adjective

    supposed or presumed.

    artifact 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


    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.

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