Miss Shizuoka
Miss Shizuoka-1
Miss Shizuoka before her trip to Japan; in among the butterflies on this kimono is the symbol for the Kobe prefecture.

In early 2017 the Kansas City Museum welcomed home Miss Shizuoka, who has been on a year-long loan to the prefecture of Shizuoka in Japan beginning in January 2016. Miss Shizuoka (also known as Fujiyama Mihoko) is a Japanese Friendship Doll; she is one of 58 dolls sent from Japan to the United States in 1927 as part of a doll exchange between the United States and Japan. Shizuoka is a prefecture of Japan and is home to Mt. Fuji.

Most of the prefectures never saw the dolls that were named in their honor so this homecoming was special to them particularly. For allowing the prefecture to have the doll for the year, Shizuoka agreed to help with some conservation work that was needed on the doll as well as providing many items that were lost.

In sending the dolls in 1927, the Japanese also sent along special doll stands with the name of each doll, a miniature passport, and a whole set of accouterments to aid in her travel. These items never came to the Kansas City Museum with the doll and are considered lost; the Shizuoka prefecture decided to replace all that for the Museum, an incredibly generous gift.

The most spectacular of the gifts from the prefecture is a new custom made kimono. Several years ago the Museum discovered, thanks to Alan Scott Pate, an authority on Japanese Friendship Dolls, that Miss Shizuoka was not wearing the kimono representing her prefecture but a kimono representing Kobe prefecture. There is no record of how this came about, but the Shizuoka prefecture decided at the very least that she deserved a new kimono representing her proper home. You can see below the transformation, as Miss Shizuoka went to Japan in her green kimono and came home in her new crimson kimono with the image of Mt. Fuji and cherry blossoms prominently displayed.

The Kansas City Museum is most grateful to the Shizuoka prefecture and the Miss Shizuoka Homecoming Committee for its generous gifts. The Museum displayed Miss Shizuoka in her new kimono with her new gifts from April 1 through May 5, 2017 in Corinthian Hall.

The Friendship Doll story begins with an American, Dr. Sidney Gulick, who spent 25 years in Japan as a missionary. Even when he returned to the United States due to ill health, Dr. Gulick couldn’t forget the country he had come to love. He was aware of the annual Doll Festival (Hina Matsuri) in Japan and had determined that the way to keep peace and friendship between his country and Japan was through the youth of those two countries. In 1924 the United States passed an immigration act that effectively barred Japanese immigrants from its shores; tensions were rising.

Miss Shizuoka in her new kimono with Mt. Fuji visible at the bottom front. In among the cherry blossoms of this kimono is the symbol for the prefecture of Shizuoka.

Therefore, Gulick began this doll campaign and collected some 13,000 “blue eyed” dolls from all over the country; they each had a little passport with them, and they were sent to Japan for the doll festival in 1927 in the spirit of friendship. Although Gulick told Japanese authorities that there was no need to reciprocate, the Japanese felt they did and completed 58 dolls of friendship (one representing each prefecture, colony, large city and country). Because there were many less Japanese dolls than American, the Japanese crafted much larger dolls that were rather expensive for the time. The project helped the doll manufacturers in Japan tremendously, as they all competed to make one of the dolls to be sent over. They all had passports; they all came with accouterments.

The dolls came to the United States and traveled the country as an exhibit before being spread out among the states. Some of the larger states received two dolls, others just one. Kansas City, Missouri received a doll, Miss Shizuoka. She was given to the Kansas City Public Library’s Children’s Department. When the Kansas City Museum opened its doors in May 1940, the library decided to begin transferring the Dyer Museum materials as well as the materials they had collected over the years.

The Friendship Doll came to the Museum in 1942, but the accession record only records the doll and a doll stand—no accouterments. In the 1990’s the Museum discovered another anomaly—many of the friendship dolls’ clothes were switched in the original 1927 shipment, done apparently by unknowing Americans who didn’t match up the doll with the right clothing. As a result, Miss Shizuoka has on the clothes representing another prefecture.

Renewed interest in the Friendship Dolls resulted in Miss Shizuoka’s inclusion in an overseas exhibit in the 1980’s. However, she never came to her home prefecture, and few Shizuokans had the chance to see her before she returned to the United States.

Miss Shizuoka was on loan to The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in Kansas City, Missouri for their reopening in August 2015, then she made a return visit to her home prefecture Shizuoka, Japan in 2016. For the first time in 89 years, since she was sent to the United States in 1927, Miss Shizuoka returned to Shizuoka. The homecoming included displaying her along with four American blue-eyed dolls during Hina Matsuri, the annual doll festival; more than 30,000 people visited Miss Shizuoka in Japan.

Daniel and Ida Dyer Collection of Native American Culture

Objects of many native cultures throughout the United States have been some of the most popular and well-regarded in the collections cared for and displayed by the Kansas City Museum over its 75 years of operation. The Dyer collection represents over a hundred tribal cultures and includes items of everyday as well as ceremonial use, and they were collected over many years by several donors. These items compose a rich tapestry of history, art, and culture that still flourishes today.

Belt for website
A small child’s belt with numerous miniature items, dated 1870-1885. From the Daniel and Ida Dyer Collection.

The collection has it origins in the career of Colonel Daniel B. Dyer, an Indian Agent in Oklahoma, and his wife, Ida. Daniel and Ida began collecting objects from the various tribes who passed through Fort Reno and amassed hundred of old, new, and commissioned works. It eventually became somewhat obsessive and the collection comprised all types of material that was exhibited by the Dyers in the 1880s-1809s at expositions and fairs.

After the death of Daniel and Ida, the Dyer collection became the Dyer Museum, and after a brief tenure at the Kansas City School Board and Kansas City Public Library, became one of the cornerstones of the Kansas City Museum collection after the Museum opened in 1940. This central grouping of approximately 750 objects attracted other donors whose contributions continue to expand the collection.

The Kansas City Museum was formed in 1939 by the merging of several existing museum and historical collections, including the Dyer Collection, the Dyer Museum, the Missouri Valley Historical Society, and others. Also included in the collection are photographs collected by the Dyers between 1870-1895 and most are American Indian-related subjects.

Over the years, additional images joined the collection and came frokm various sources, including a number purchased directly from photographer Harold Kellogg’s studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

1903 Model A Cadillac

Donated by the Greenlease family in 1985IMG_5589_-90, it is one of the few of its kind from that era. It has survived in relatively good condition largely as a display piece, first by an unknown Cadillac dealer in Iowa, then by the Greenlease Motor Car Co of Kansas City who displayed it on their showroom floor for many years. The local Cadillac dealer, Greenlease opened its doors November 11, 1918 and was located at McGee and 29th St.

Cadillac entered the automobile industry in late 1902 with the introduction of a single cylinder car. Production of the Model A began in March, 1903. A total of 1,895 Model A’s were built from March, 1903 to March, 1904. With a comparatively low price of $750 to $1,000, depending on the year and equipment, the single cylinder Cadillac was one of the most popular cars on the market until it was discontinued in 1909. The museum’s Model A tells its own story based on the serial number—it was the 99th car produced by Cadillac (the 96th produced in 1903).

The ’03 Cadillac in the Museum’s collection is painted red with black trim and red pinstripes. The wooden body is on a metal carriage frame. A single cylinder engine with a two speed planetary transmission and chain drive is located under the front seat. The car is equipped with a detachable “Tonneau,” which provides seating for two (4 passenger car) behind the front seat.

The passenger and driver compartments are open, lacking any type of roof or windshield. Most of the metal accessories (lamps, steering wheel, horn, etc.) are brass. Inflatable tires are mounted on spoke wheels made of wood and metal.

The car had some restoration work done before it came to the Museum; additional work would bring the car to its original look. If you are interested in learning more about the restoration needs, please contact Denise Morrison at denise.morrison@kcmo.org.

Warner Studio Collection

The Warner Studio Collection is that rarest of collections; the complete works of one studio in one city at a particular time in history. Warner Untersee (1916-1996) was the founder of the company. Swiss born, Untersee came to the United States as a child.

After a stint in the army, his training in aerial photography was turned into a full time position with TWA, which was then headquartered in Kansas City. But Howard Hughes had other ideas, and after buying the company, he eliminated the photography division and Untersee was out of a job. But not for long; Warner Studio was born in 1949 and was a successful shop, particularly in aerial and commercial photography.

While the company did its share of weddings and private events, even the random passport photo, the majority of Warner Studio’s output was in the area of business and industry shots, often of companies now long gone. The collection provides a view of Kansas City and surrounding areas from many different lenses.