September 27, 2017

RMSC and international partners to open The Gift of Dolls exhibit Saturday, Sept. 30

Exhibit celebrating 1927 Friendship Doll Exchange between U.S. and Japan opens with family activities and symposium with exhibition partners

ROCHESTER, N.Y.—The Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC)—in partnership with Cornell University, the Rochester Public Library, and Japanese scholars at home and abroad—is pleased to open The Gift of Dolls, an exhibit celebrating the 1927 Friendship Doll Exchange between Japan and America. The Gift of Dolls runs Saturday, Sept. 30–Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 (excluding Oct. 13–15 and 20–22). Related programming includes an all-ages Grand Opening from 10:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, and a celebration of the Miss Nagasaki doll’s 90th birthday from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7–Monday, Oct. 9.

In 1927, a groundbreaking doll exchange took place between Japanese and American schoolchildren as an act of friendship. More than 12,000 friendship dolls were sent from children in the United States to Japan, where they were distributed to elementary schools and kindergartens. In response, 58 Ambassador Dolls were sent from Japan to the U.S. This large-scale international cultural exchange was initiated by two passionate private citizens—Sidney Gulick and Eiichi Shibusawa—who sought to improve U.S.-Japan relations in the wake of the Immigration Act of 1924.

Ninety years later, the RMSC and its partners are celebrating this early example of citizen diplomacy with The Gift of Dolls. Central to the exhibit is Miss Nagasaki—an original Ambassador Doll that has been in the RMSC’s collection since 1929—and rarely displayed accessories. The exhibit will also showcase additional Japanese dolls and artifacts from the RMSC’s and Rochester Public Library’s George Cooper collections, as well as several KIDS’ GUERNICA murals, including one created earlier this year as a collaboration between schoolchildren in Rochester, N.Y. and Nagasaki, Japan.

The Gift of Dolls was made possible, in part, by the Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library, whose sponsorship helped fund the exhibit’s production, and a gift from the Japan Foundation, New York, which supported travel expenses for Grand Opening Symposium participants.

The Gift of Dolls Grand Opening, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017

Visitors are invited to enjoy full day of family friendly activities plus a symposium featuring exhibition partners. A delegation from Nagasaki, Japan will be present, as will Sidney Gulick III, grandson of Friendship Doll Exchange founder Sidney Gulick.

  • 10:30–11 a.m.: Official exhibit opening announcement with City of Rochester officials, Museum leaders, and international exhibition partners
  • 11–11:30 a.m.: Tea ceremony with members of the Nagasaki delegation
  • 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m.: Family activities with the Nagasaki delegation—KIDS’ GUERNICA mural creation, paper crane making, origami, and ikebana
  • 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m.: Memories of Miss Nagasaki StoryCorps recording
  • 2–4pm: Symposium with RMSC and exhibit partners

Celebrate Miss Nagasaki's 90th Birthday, Saturday, Oct. 7–Monday, Oct. 9: 11am–3pm

Enjoy a special occasion to participate in ongoing cultural exchanges between Japan and the United States in a long weekend of family friendly activities. Fold paper cranes, write letters to Japan, and craft a friendship bracelet to express hope for the future. 

The Gift of Dolls exhibit and related programming are free with regular museum admission: $14 adults, $13 seniors and college students with ID, $12 ages 3 to 18, free for children under 3 and RMSC members. For group reservations and rates, call 585.697.1942.

For high-resolution images and additional information, contact Mare Millow, Marketing Communications Manager, RMSC, 585.697.1944, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) includes the Science Museum, Strasenburgh Planetarium and Cumming Nature Center. Offering experiences at the Museum with more than 200 interactive exhibits, Planetarium with a 65-foot dome and Nature Center on 900 acres, the RMSC stimulates community interest in exploration. In addition, the more than 1.2 million RMSC collection items tell the story of Rochester’s past including its rich history of innovation and invention. RMSC receives major funding from Monroe County, where it is one of the top three most visited attractions serving children and families. For more information about RMSC, visit http://www.rmsc.org. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.


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