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Promoting a Little Understanding
Tim Van Schmidt
I had a friend who had a dream.
My friend’s name was Jeanne Nash, and her dream was to create a place where the richness of diverse cultures from around the world would converge. In that place, human understanding would flourish in the face of the great and colorful traditions that would proudly present there.
To do that, Nash didn’t think big, as in physical size, but went small — really small, as in miniature.
Nash named her dream “Mundoville,” and the residents there would be dolls from around the world. Her idea was that dolls reflected the people who made them.
But more than just a collection of dolls, Nash also collected miniature scenes that reflected other cultures. These scenes featured hand-made items all scaled down to fit neatly into a small space.
Nash herself was a skilled craftsperson — and that informed her worldwide search for unique dolls and miniatures. She was a jewelry maker, a master knitter, and a miniature-maker
That’s how I met Nash — through annual regional miniature shows. A little known fact is that my day job since 1980 has been as a ceramic craftsman who specializes in scale miniatures. Nash was not only a participant at the same trade shows I would attend, but she was also a patron, bought my stuff, and encouraged me.
Since we were both from Fort Collins, we easily became acquainted. Nash and I had mutual friends and mutual interest in what miniatures could portray.
One day, Nash invited me to her house, and I got to see “Mundoville” taking shape. Nash had display cases stacked everywhere, and she told my family and I the stories behind the pieces she had collected.
The most amazing one was her description of her relationship with a group of monks on the other side of the globe who made special dolls. She sent money and waited — and waited. After a couple of years, Nash was still hopeful that the dolls would arrive. Not hopeful, confident.
Those dolls did arrive. And Nash’s “Mundoville” did become a reality and not just in her living room. It has become the “Mundoville Gallery” at the Global Village Museum of Arts and Culture, right in the heart of downtown Fort Collins, located at 200 W. Mountain.
I’m proud to say that some of my own ceramic pieces are included in “Mundoville” — just check out the “Many Nations Trading Post” to see some of my decorated pots and dishes.
Nash passed away several years ago, but “Mundoville” lives on. And the Global Village Museum has grown since opening in 2010, now featuring three other galleries and the Losel Doll Collection, made by those far away monks Nash believed would finally deliver.
In working in miniatures for several decades, my take on the popularity of the hobby is that enthusiasts partially enjoy making scenes, or even full houses, in miniature because it is a world they can control.
That wasn’t the case with Nash. She wanted the miniatures she collected and even made herself to open up windows to what makes the world vibrant.
Currently, the Global Village Museum is featuring the “Colorful Paintings by Folk Artists of Central China” exhibit in the Main Gallery. The museum will celebrate the opening of a new exhibit, “Magical and Mythical Animals in Human Imagination,” on April 2nd. Upcoming events and programs at GVM include “The Life and Empire of Genghis Khan” on April 22 and “Xi Jinping and China’s Campaign for Wealth and Power” on March 4.
To visit “Mundoville” in person — and so much more — Global Village is currently making reservations for parties of up to five. Check their web site at www.globalvillagemuseum.org. It’s an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with a larger world view and maybe a little more understanding.
Tim Van Schmidt is a writer and photographer based in Fort Collins. See his channel on YouTube at “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt.”