Dutch Dollhouse


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StaceyG"DutchdollhouseThe National Gallery of Art has an extensive online interactive art exhibit which is geared towards kids, but is fun for all ages. A few of the applications available stand out and include themes such as Jungle, Still Life, and especially the great interactive Dutch Dollhouse.

Mashing up the art of several Dutch painters, they have created a fantastic art webtoy that is entertaining and really holds your interest. Even going back to it several times you can always find some charming new detail. They go for the play factor here, rather than using it as an art lesson, which is a great way to lead someone to learn more on their own. It has a wonderful whimsical quality that puts just a smidge of Monty Python silliness into this artistic setting.

DutchdollhouseTo start, click on the brick front of the house and explore the three levels inside. There's also a courtyard which you shouldn't miss (it's a bit tricky to get to, click just left of the house on the ground level). The menu button on the lower left gives you access to the elements you can add or change, anything with a pencil icon is customizable. Either play for a few minutes, or delve into the intricacies of designing your own patterns in the floor, tile, rug, even the lace one woman is sewing. You can design your own dinner plates, or just try smashing the plates on the floor. Feed a pig, set a bird flying, make a baby laugh, or have a guy blow bubbles. You can even mimic the lighting that the old Dutch Masters used in their paintings by adjusting the slide bars on the side (or click the sky in the courtyard).

On the art studio level you can click the canvas on the easel and use the painter's palette to create your own art work. Then click on the framed canvas on the wall so you can toggle the art to the three different locations in the room.

There's a snapshot feature which is endlessly fun (access through the menu, or the canvas in the art studio). On the lower floors, you can take a picture of the room, and it will be displayed on the wall in one of the frames. In the studio you can expand the use of this tool, as you have several canvases and control over where you take the snapshot. Those familiar with the "Droste Effect" will have fun with this one.

There are some funny sounds, surprises and lots of hidden facets to explore. Make sure to move any doors in the background to see into the rooms behind them.

As in the paintings of Johannes Vermeer, this webtoy captures the affection for detail in everyday objects, and captures the imagination. We highly recommend spending some time in the Dutch Dollhouse.

Play in the Dutch Dollhouse

12 Comments

This is just like a game I used to have on Windows 95. It came with our CD Encyclopedia Britannica.

Good times.

Totz not working for me. I have to do the plug in thing, I've downloaded it but I can't execute it...? Also it wasn't downloading directly for me. I had to do it manually.

Ugh after years of gaming this is a serious blow to this girls ego.

Won't load completely. It gets stuck.

T_T I can't play, I have to download a mime or something, it looks interesting, too..

Seems to work on mine, but is really buggy. Things just disappear randomly and then reappear when you click on other things... and the courtyard seems to just be black?.. also, I can escape from this... which means it can't be weekday escape... I can't ever escape from them!?

it keeps getting stuck while loading and i have the latest version of shockwave aswell!

help!!

Dutch Dollhouse works perfectly for me! If it works for you as well then try this: To get a perfect picture in the studio, click on the easel and then enable flowers. Some flowers should appear on the table. Place them in front of the easel. Then, click once on the easel. Move the flowers. You now have a perfect picture of flowers!

Any hints on how to kill the final boss?

Random fun fact:

When you move the steeple, the sound you hear is like the first half second of an Enya song. Though I'm unable to remember which one...

Just a note to say thanks for the nice review of the NGAkids Dollhouse. We've just discovered, much to our disappointment, that Firefox 3 is triggering some display problems with existing shockwave content. We're hoping this will be addressed in the next update -- the bug has been reported to Mozilla and Adobe. Meanwhile, the "break apart" or 'disappearing' components' problem can be avoided if you use Firefox 2, or Safari for Mac, and Explorer on Windows. Intel mac and Vista users should update to the latest shockwave player 11 - earlier versions of Shockwave will work with older computers. Also, if the page goes black' as it's loading, just click on the area where the interactive should display -- it may reappear and work correctly after that. We hope this Firefox problem will be fixed soon - but in the interim, the answer is to not update to Firefox 3 if you're playing any Shockwave games. Sorry about the inconvenience!

just a quick addition to my previous comment - in Firefox 3 (using the most recent update), if you experience display problems loading Dollhouse, just RESIZE your browser window and the entire interactive may reappear. There seems to be some sort of layering issue with Firefox that obliterates the shockwave plugin content whenever another window opens, etc. We recommend Firefox 2 or Safari (and Firefox 2 or Explorer) until this bug is resolved, but they seem to be working on the problem, since the 'puzzle' effect is less noticeable in this most recent update.

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