Rochester, NY - Raggedy Ann and AndyTM have embarked on a BIG adventure! Gathering their belongings, the iconic mop-headed duo hopped onto a truck with Strong National Museum of Play curators and travelled all the way from Arcola, Illinois (birthplace of their creator Johnny Gruelle) to Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester.
The Raggedy Ann & Andy Museum in Arcola, Illinois, founded ten years ago by Joni Gruelle Wannamaker (granddaughter of the doll’s creator) and her husband Tom, will close its doors at the end of 2009 and has donated family papers, manuscripts, and an amazing array of Raggedy Ann & Andy toys and dolls to Strong National Museum of Play. The museum’s operation has been a major commitment for the Wannamakers and their decision to close it was made as a result of a downturn in tourism linked to the slump in the economy.
Joni first visited Strong in 2007 for Raggedy Andy’s induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame® (his sister, Raggedy Ann, was previously inducted into the hall in 2002). Impressed by the immensity of the family-oriented facility; the breadth of its toy, doll, and game collections; and the caliber of its staff, Gruelle chose Strong as the ideal destination for preserving her important family legacy. “We think Strong is a perfect spot for Raggedy Ann and Andy to be,” she said.
“It is especially fitting to bring the rich history surrounding the Raggedy pair to Strong, since they are such important American icons in the toy world,” said Chris Bensch, Vice
President for Collections. “We feel honored that Joni and Tom selected us as the permanent home for their comprehensive collection.”
In early August, Bensch and a team of three Strong curators traveled to the Raggedy Ann & Andy Museum to select, pack, and transport the objects that would best represent the characters and their history. “With more than 90 years as books and playthings,” says Bensch, “the range of Raggedy Ann & Andy materials was astonishing. Beyond the cloth dolls (in every possible size), there were board games, card games, puzzles, play sets, children’s furniture, posters, mobiles, cookie jars, Halloween costumes, records, videos, comic books, Christmas ornaments, and even a line of Raggedy Ann-branded canned vegetables.” The curators brought more than a thousand Raggedy Ann & Andy items back to Strong National Museum of Play to preserve for generations to come.
Raggedy Ann came to life as a doll in 1915 when one day, as the story goes, Johnny Gruelle’s daughter Marcella brought him an old rag doll. He drew a face on the worn fabric and called the doll Raggedy Ann. Gruelle, a cartoonist and illustrator, wrote a children’s book about Raggedy Ann in 1918. Publisher P.F. Volland arranged to sell Raggedy Ann dolls along with the books, and the tie-in between Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann Stories and the dolls proved a marketing hit. In 1920, Gruelle introduced the Raggedy Andy Stories. In them, when humans weren’t looking, Raggedy Ann and Andy came to life and set off on many adventures. Gruelle wrote 20 books about the lovable duo; scores more by other authors fed the demand of a public who have adored the pair for nearly a century.
Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York is the only museum in the world devoted solely to the study of play. The museum features dynamic, highly interactive exhibits and is home to the National Toy Hall of Fame and the world’s largest collection of toys, dolls, games, and play-related artifacts. For more information about Strong, visit http://www.museumofplay.org/.
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