News and Events

Major Museum Expansion

The Susan Quinlan Doll & Teddy Bear Museum originally had 80 display cases when it opened in 2005. A large area of the galleries were used by those who held parties, receptions and activities at the museum. Meanwhile, much of the Quinlan collection has been in storage and has never been seen by   the public. And since 2005, the unseen portion of the collection has increased considerably. So the Quinlans thought it would be a better use of their available space to add more display cases. After designing the all glass cases and determining the layout of the cases, they determined that they could add nearly 70 more large display cases, bringing the total to nearly 150 cases. Each case is 4' wide and 7’-8' tall.

The manufacturer had to send the disassembled cases in three shipments. In each shipment, parts were made incorrectly, so replacements had to be ordered. Each time it took 2-3 months to receive the modified parts.

In addition, there were two major delays. In one shipment, eight 7’ x 8’ sheets of clear glass were delivered rather than the frosted glass that was ordered. It took months for those to be replaced. In another shipment, 55 sheets of glass were shattered because the truck driver never secured the crates properly. Each sheet of glass weighed 55-160 pounds. Since the glass is all tempered, there were huge piles  of shattered glass particles in the bed of the truck when it arrived. Even though we submitted over 50 pictures documenting the damage, examined over 200 sheets of glass for scratches and chips, and documented our findings, the insurance company for the shipping company kept requesting more and more paperwork over the course of a year before they reimbursed us for 90% of our claim. Knowing this delay tactic would happen, we never waited for the insurance check before ordering. We ordered and paid for replacing the 55 sheets of glass right away. So instead of the replacements taking 16 months to arrive, it took only four months to receive the replacement glass sheets.

The new cases consist of modules of four display cases assembled on a single wood base. A local moving company in Santa Barbara, Mammoth Movers, that is familiar with handling heavy items was used to line up and bolt the wood bases to the ground in case of earthquakes. They also placed the glass tops on the 7’ tall cases.

All of the glass came coated with fingerprints and grime. Terry Quinlan cleaned both sides of each sheet of glass before assembly. To hire anyone to assemble the walls and doors of the cases would have cost way more than the cost of the cases, so the Quinlans assembled the cases themselves. They had to use rubber gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints. It is a good thing Susan and Terry, a couple of senior citizens, go to the YMCA regularly because 200 of the 600 sheets of glass they handled weighed 55 and 110 pounds each. A rough estimate is that it took a year to receive all the correct pieces and another year to assemble them. The good news is that they will not have to go through this again, as there is no more room left for more cases. The bad news is that we don’t have space left for future expansions – this is it!. That is why we put in a changing display area.

Museum’s First Revolving Display

Since 2005 the museum only had room for permanent displays. There was no room for revolving displays where the content of the cases could be changed periodically with new dolls and teddy bears that were sitting in storage. With the new cases recently installed, there is a large section of cases used entirely for revolving displays. The first revolving display is called “Toys of Our Childhood” that covers toys of the 20th century. The display is based on the toys that have been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong Museum, and includes additions from the Quinlan Museum collection.

New Doll & Teddy Bear Artist Section

There is also another section among the new cases reserved for displaying artist dolls and teddy bears. Most visitors to the museum have never heard of one-of-a-kind dolls and teddy bears that are made mostly by women artists. Now they can see in one place a heavy concentration of pieces made by many of the best doll and bear artists in the world. It is an art gallery within a museum. If you are inclined to support an industry that is dominated by women, this would be a good one to get behind. Drop into the museum anytime it is open and Susan Quinlan will be happy to give you a crash course on artist dolls and teddy bears. One distinct advantage to collecting the work of contemporary artists is that you can actually meet them and discuss their work and their inspirations with them. The best place to really learn about them, to meet the artists in person, and to see the largest display of their work in the world, is to attend the Quinlan’s Annual Artist Doll & Teddy Bear Convention in Philadelphia late April or early May each year.

What People Said About Their Visit to the Museum

Are you thinking about visiting the Susan Quinlan Museum in the near future? This is what some museum visitors have said about their experiences at the Museum. This was before the Quinlans increased the number of display cases at the Museum from 80 to 150.

“It’s amazing! I’m crazy about everything. I can’t help but shout and scream.” – Yi-Hsuan Tseng, Taipei, Taiwan

“A fabulous and overwhelming collection!!” – Colleen Hart, Brockville, ON, Canada

“Very special. Thank you for your guided tour.” – Simonis Family, The Netherlands

“Very interesting!” – Niu Xiao Yun, Beijing, China

“Brings to life memories of childhood.” – Joan Bloomfield, Atascadero, CA

“A marvelous tour!” – Mary Israel, Charlottesville, VA

“Absolutely stunning!” – Lindsay & Joan Tolleon, Lompoc, CA

“You have the best collection!” – Jeannette Gregory, Daly City, CA

“Most wonderful collection, beautifully displayed.” – Dorothy Eldridge, Santa Barbara, CA

“I’m only 4 months old and I loved it!” – Fallon Erickson, Santa Barbara, CA

What Attendees Said About the Quinlan Convention

Why do people use their vacation time and travel across the country to attend our Artist Doll & Teddy Bear Convention each year in Philadelphia? Why are more and more antique doll and teddy bear collectors attending? Why is this the only major event many attend? Because it is the most fun event for the money and the largest event of its kind, and you are treated like a person rather than as a number. This is what some of the artists and collectors have said about their experiences at the convention.

“We thought the convention was great! I am a member of both UFDC and a patron of ODACA and this was different than anything I've been to. Affordable, plenty to do, plenty to eat, great artists and relaxed atmosphere. What more could we ask for?” – Judith & Mike Seay, Doll Collectors

“I only do one or, rarely, two shows a year now, and I have informed all my collectors that your show will be “mandatory” for me from here on out.” – Michelle Lamb, Bear Artist

“It was outstanding! There is nothing else like it, and we enjoyed every minute.” – Betsey & Ray Baker, Doll Artist

“Five star event. Best show ever. Could not do any better. Perfect in every way.” – Alice Shinn, Bear Collector

“You have done a wonderful job creating the best Convention for Artists I have ever attended. Your effort to give all artists and collectors the most for their money, whether they attend the convention of just the Saturday Show has been achieved 10 times over. It is an event that all collectors and artist should be a part of.” – Gwen Jackson, Doll Artist

“This show is one that I have only dreamed about ...Greatest show on earth!” – Wanda Carson, Bear Artist

“It is the best convention out there! It is affordable , relaxed, informative, and down right fun!” – Roxanna Maria Sullivan, Doll Artist

“Overall best convention I have attended for activities and variety.” – Kimberly Zeman, Bear Artist

“Your fantastic show has been the highlight of my bear-making year for the last three years. It was a bit stressful getting there this year, and my husband suggested maybe we don't come next year. He may as well have suggested to a five year old that Christmas should be cancelled! I will never miss your show if I can help it!” – Tami Eveslage, Bear Artist

New Dollhouses and Miniatures Book by Susan Quinlan

When you begin a new hobby, one of the things you are always told is that you should read books on your chosen topic in order to become knowledgeable about the subject matter. But how are you to know what is available to be read? You cannot rely on your local public library or book store for everything you might want to read, since publications go out of print very quickly and many stores and libraries keep only a few of the recent books due to a lack of space on their shelves. Libraries can get you books through interlibrary loan, but even then how do you know which ones to request?

The book collection at the Susan Quinlan Doll and Teddy Bear Museum and Library has over 11,000 volumes in its collection. It is the largest known collection of its kind. This book is the first in a series of five books that provide a classified catalog of the books and related material in the library collection. When completed, the five books will cover:

• Dollhouses and Miniatures Fiction and Non-Fiction Books
• Teddy Bears Fiction Books
• Teddy Bears Non-Fiction Books
• Dolls Fiction Books
• Dolls Non-Fiction Books

The collection contains most of the major books published in these areas, and more are being added all the time. Unlike many bibliographies that are more interested in presenting a physical description of the books, this publication emphasizes the content of the books. The books are divided into subjects or sections with the hope that they will lead you to those books that are most relevant to your immediate interests. To see the table of contents for the book “Reference Guide to Research on Dollhouses and Miniatures,” click HERE.

Additional books on the topic have been added to the collection since this book was published. These additional titles will be listed in an on-line supplement that can be found on the museum website home page. Look under “Resources” and click on “Library/Publications.”

Susan Quinlan hopes that this bibliography covering 1,242 books will help you, whether you are a new or long-time collector, in your search for information and ideas in this wonderful world of dollhouses, miniatures and related topics. The price of this 320-page reference book is $9.95. It is available at the Susan Quinlan Doll & Teddy Bear Museum & Library in Santa Barbara, CA or by email (sq@quinlanmuseum.com) and phone (805) 687-8901.

Major Acquisition for the Museum Collection

The Susan Quinlan Doll & Teddy Bear Museum & Library is proud to announce that dolls and settings created by renowned doll artist Nancy Wiley to illustrate her recently published edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are now part of the museum’s collection and are on permanent display. As part of the unveiling of the collection to the public at the museum on March 6, 2011, Nancy was on hand to sign copies of the book after setting up the scenes in the museum’s display cases.


Information about the book and how it was created can be found on Nancy’s website at www.nancywiley.com. She has based her version of the story on an edition written and illustrated by Lewis Carroll. She has also created limited editions of some of the figures from the book that will be available for sale from her website.

Nancy has been making dolls since 1989, and one of her dolls was the inspiration for the cover of the June/July 1996 issue of “George” magazine featuring Demi Moore. She has also been the subject of a number of books and articles, including the book The Creations of Nancy Wiley by Louise Fecher. Her works have been on display in many museums including the Muscatine Art Center, and most recently at the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. Nancy has now begun work on an illustrated edition of Little Red Riding Hood.

bookcoverMuseum Co-publishes Doll Artist Book

When Susan and her husband, Terry, established their Doll & Teddy Bear Museum & Library, they agreed that one of their two mission statements would be to do whatever they could to support and share the creative talent of doll and teddy bear artists. The Museum provides a way to share their love for their pieces of art with others, because hoarding art only betrays the artist and history. But access to any museum is limited by visitors’ geographic distance. That is why it was such an honor for them to have the opportunity to work jointly with the National Institute of American Doll Artists (NIADA) in co-publishing their recently published book NIADA Art Dolls, Rich Traditions, New Ideas – a well deserved tribute to many of the best doll artists in the world. The Susan Quinlan Doll & Teddy Bear Museum & Library provided the funding for the book so that 100% of the proceeds from the book will be pure profit for NIADA.

The Quinlans think of the book as giving you your own personal, portable doll museum that you can take home where you can retreat whenever you wish to enjoy the beautiful creations these doll artists have made over time. The book allows you to see how doll art has developed over the years, as well as how individual artists have progressed and changed. A book is like a museum – looking without reflection is like shopping without buying. Between these pages is where true doll lovers live.

Susan was a university librarian for over 30 years and has loved books since childhood. Even today, in the electronic age, she feels that there is still no replacement for a good book, especially one with doll artist illustrations. As Aristotle said, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” She also had the chance to “grow up” in a museum where her father taught Saturday classes. So it is no surprise that she firmly believes that children should grow up in such wonderful places as museums and books.

Over 30 years ago Susan began to collect dolls, her second love. At the time, manufactured dolls dominated the doll world. Gradually, the original artist dolls came on the scene and brought a whole new dimension to the doll world. Each artist could follow their own creative direction and have the freedom to do different, unusual and unique pieces. It is the doll artist who has brought innovation and a freshness to the doll world. Susan said: “It is wonderful for me to be able to combine my love for books and dolls by supporting this publication that will bring well-deserved recognition to the individual and collective works of NIADA artists. Seeing one’s name in print is rewarding; seeing one’s creation in print is exhilerating. There is no greater tribute to a doll artist than having their art recognized and appreciated. This book will immortalize an era of doll artistry that will outlive any museum because the love for creativity and talent will never disappear and the works of art are what survives of the artist’s incredible gift. To all NIADA doll artists, thank you for letting me share this corner of your wonderfully gifted life.”

To order a copy of this 432 page book that illustrates the works of 160 leading doll artists with over 630 dolls pictures, simply contact the Quinlan Museum at sq@quinlanmuseum.com or (805) 687-8901.

Susan Quinlan Receives NIADA Award

The National Institute of American Doll Artists (NIADA) held their annual conference at the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN on September 8-13, 2009. At the banquet dinner, NIADA presented Susan Quinlan with their Patron Honor Award for her support in the form of an interest-free loan to fund the printing of their recently published doll artist book entitled NIADA Art Dolls, Rich Traditions, New Ideas. After Susan expressed her sincere appreciation to the audience, her husband, Terry, came forward, and before he could say anything, tears came to his eyes. He told them how earlier that month one of their three cats, Cinderella (Cindy), was dying and he was sitting with the cat in the backyard thinking about the meaning of life and all those deep things people think about at those moments. He came back into the house and told Susan that they each should do one extravagant thing each year so they never have to look back and say “should have, would have” about anything. They both agreed. As a result, Terry announced that they were tearing up the loan agreement with NIADA and making the funding a gift to NIADA so all proceeds from the book sales would go directly to NIADA in support of their member artists. As Shelley Thornton, president of NIADA, said, “I don't think that there was a dry eye in the place.”

Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. Material and photographs, in whole or part, contained on this web site
may not be reproduced, distributed, or used for any purposes without permission of Susan Quinlan.