What Is Angels Attic?

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  • Written By: L.S. Ware
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2019
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Founded in 1984, Angels Attic is a museum in the United States dedicated to the world of dolls and miniatures. It is located at 516 Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica, California. The museum is open Thursdays through Saturdays and is closed for all major American holidays. While often considered primarily a children's museum, Angels Attic appeals to all ages. The museum is home to an extensive and ever-changing conglomeration of both contemporary and antique dollhouses, toys, and miniatures.

Eleanor LaVove and Jackie McMahan are the co-founders and the holders of the initial collections that formed the base of Angels Attic. The museum grew out of the overwhelming response to shows the two women began holding in 1975. The purpose of these shows was to raise money for a non-profit school attended by McMahan's autistic granddaughter. The women combined their doll and dollhouse collections and held a number of revenue-generating garden parties before deciding to seek a permanent home for the collections.


In 1981, LaVove and McMahan purchased a Queen Anne Victorian house and spent the next few years transitioning the building from a rundown boarding house to a spectacular museum. The house is the oldest Victorian home in Santa Monica and has been painstakingly restored to its original 1890s splendor. Angels Attic officially opened in 1984 and has been increasing its collections ever since while donating proceeds to help autistic and developmentally challenged children. Following a merger with the Volunteers of America of Greater Los Angeles, the museum's mission expanded to provide programs for senior citizens and disadvantaged children.

Since beginning with LaVove and McMahan's private collections, Angels Attic has received regular donations and loans of miniatures from all over the world. Seven galleries and numerous display cases showcase the miniatures throughout the property. Many of the houses, dolls, and toys share their stories with visitors by means of nearby labels and signs, telling the item's age, maker, and sometimes its provenance. A yearly de-acquisition sale is held by the museum to make room for new pieces and collections.

Yearly memberships to Angels Attic can be purchased. Benefits of membership include free admission for the member and one guest along with a discount on merchandise such as dolls, miniatures, and books. As of 2011, membership cost $100 US Dollars (USD). The non-profit museum utilizes volunteers, providing them with similar benefits as members. Group tours of Angels Attic and rentals for special events can be arranged by contacting the museum director.


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Post 3

@candyquilt-- The miniatures are okay but do you like the larger dolls?

I've been to the Angels Attic and to be honest, it was different than what I expected. It wasn't really as girly as I had expected it to be. I couldn't imagine myself playing with most of those toys. And the larger dolls are kind of creepy. I left that part of the museum very quickly because it really scared me. It kind of feels like they're watching you. I didn't feel this way with the rest of the toys, just some of the bigger dolls.

Post 2

I love Angels Attic. I have been there twice and I'm a miniature collector myself. Angels Attic has the oldest miniatures and doll houses I have ever seen. Many are from the 1800s and 1900s. But even the oldest ones have been maintained very nice. Most of the collection is antiques.

My favorite thing in the whole museum is the shoe house. This doll house is literally shaped like a shoe. I believe it was inspired by a nursery rhyme. I actually went back to the museum the second time just to check out the shoe house again.

If any of you haven't been to the Angels Attic but get the opportunity, please do. You probably won't see such an extensive collection of antique miniatures and doll houses again.

Post 1

I like dollhouses and toys. I'm not a collector or as big a fan as some others. But I visited Angels Attic when I visited Santa Monica because I believe that they exist for an excellent cause and really make a difference. Almost all of us know someone or have someone in our family or extended family who suffers from autism and similar conditions. We need more museums and programs like the Angels Attic to support children and adults who suffer from them.

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