After more than two years of preparation, The Enchanted Moment Doll Museum and Gallery conducted a ribbon-cutting Sunday for family members and invited guests. Located at 174 Jefferson St., the museum is to celebrate its grand opening with a public open house 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Proprietors and sisters, Myrna Riedel, 73, and Jean Berlekamp, 87, were on hand to welcome and guide visitors through the various rooms. They started the museum project in Fremont with two other sisters, DeLean McDonald and Shirley Eborg, who are now deceased. The museum moved to its current location in 2009.
Berlekamp gave a prepared statement to mark the occasion.
"We had a vision, a dream, to one day open a very special and unique doll museum," Berlekamp said. "We knew we could achieve what we wanted to do because we were taught well."
She said their mother was a teacher who used nature and daily life as a classroom, inspiring her children to follow through on their endeavors. Their father was a day laborer, earning 50 cents a day on the railroad.
Berlekamp recalled wearing hand-me-down clothes, gardening, reading the Bible, sharing with others and taking care of the few possessions they had, including their toys, books and dolls.
Family was important and remains important to Riedel and Berlekamp, she said. The museum took shape with assistance from many family members and close friends. Four of the sisters' great-grandchildren held the ribbon for the ceremony and served refreshments in the adjacent Grammes-Brown House.
"So many hands, so many, many, many hours. So much help, love, support, compassion and understanding of what we wanted to do," Berlekamp said.
She called the museum "a jewel for Tiffin and Seneca County," "a tremendous undertaking" and "a gift of the
heart." An endowment is being established for perpetual care of the museum and its collection.
Berlekamp thanked the National Machinery Foundation, the Gillmor Foundation, the White Family Charitable Fund, P.T. Rehabilitation Services and Ace Hardware for contributions they have made.
Michelle Burley of Columbus, daughter of Shirley Eborg, was stationed on the museum's second floor. She pointed out the Fantasy Room with dolls representing characters from nursery rhymes and motion pictures. The Country and Cloth Dolls room is home to Raggedy Ann and Andy, a farm set with small cardboard figures and an Ohio State University football player made of felt.
"He is signed by Woody Hayes. You can see his signature right underneath the OSU,"
Burley said. "A lot of these things were actually (the sisters') toys."
Berlekamp told some of the guests she always thinks about the people who made the dolls and feels the spirits are present in the rooms with their creations. Now that the exhibits are complete, Riedel and Berlekamp will focus on archival work to compile a list of all the museum's contents and to
record facts about each doll on a card.
Visitors will be able to do self-tours when the sisters are not available to give lectures.
A lift is available for those who cannot climb the stairs. For fees, the owners also do doll appraisals, repairs and restoration. Donations are accepted.
The phone number for Enchanted Moment is (419) 443-0038.