Iowa State University

Lynette Pohlman, University Museums, (515) 294-3342
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University Museums will sell a majority of the Brunnier Art Museum's doll collection. The decision to reduce the size of the collection was unanimously approved in April by the University Museums Advisory Committee.

The entire collection consists of nearly 500 dolls. The university plans to sell 300 to 350 of the dolls. The dolls will be sold at a public sale venue, probably by an agency specializing in doll collections. The value of the collection will be based on its market value at the time of the sale, said Lynette Pohlman, University Museums director.

"Deaccessioning art is a serious issue for a museum," said Pohlman. "The deaccessioning of the Brunnier doll collection has been reviewed for two years. We have received input from campus, the general public, independent curators and staff evaluations."

Proceeds from the sale will pay for the conservation of a core collection of dolls the University Museums will retain, and for future museum acquisitions. The core collection will consist of 100 to 125 dolls that represent the best and the breadth of the collection given to the university by Ann Brunnier. The core collection will be selected by museum curators, based upon recommendations made by international experts who have studied the collection. The experts who have studied the collection are Jane Coleman and Dorothy Coleman, a mother and daughter team from Washington, D.C., and Jean Burke, with the Bennington (Ver.) Museum

A small collection of ethnic dolls will be given to the ISU International Resource Center.

There are several reasons for reducing the size of the doll collection, said Pohlman. The conservation needed for the entire collection would likely run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A survey of ISU academic departments indicated no academic interest in the dolls for research. Also, the dolls require significant storage space.

Public hearings on the fate of the collection were held last year, with only few strong opinions for keeping the collection being expressed, said Pohlman.