The University of Nebraska State Museum-Morrill Hall will open a temporary exhibit on April 30 featuring Miss Mie, a Japanese friendship doll that came to the museum in 1928.
“Miss Mie has been a symbol of friendship and kindness for 95 years,” said Susan Weller, director of the NU State Museum. “We look forward to highlighting that history and celebrating her legacy by opening this exhibit in time for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.”
Miss Mie arrived in the United States from Japan in 1927 as part of the Friendship Doll Mission. Japanese children sent 58 Torei Ningyo (“dolls of gratitude,” or friendship dolls) in response to the gift of blue-eyed dolls sent by U.S. children to Japan. The friendship dolls traveled to 479 cities across the country before finding homes in museums and other institutions. Many dolls were forgotten about or not displayed as World War II began. But in 2009, efforts to continue spreading Miss Mie’s message of friendship and peace were rekindled. Miss Mie and its accessories returned to Mie Prefecture in south-central Japan. There, the doll underwent conservation by an expert doll conservator before traveling to homecoming events in 10 cities throughout the region. The doll returned to the NU State Museum’s research collections in 2010. In July 2017, to mark its 90th birthday, Miss Mie returned to Japan for conservation and display in Mie Prefecture at MieMu. It was then exhibited in Morrill Hall during the fall semester, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of Nebraska’s Kawasaki Reading Room.
The reading room is the university’s Japanese library on the third floor of the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center. The library offers more than 7,000 books, magazines and journals, along with providing a vast array of diverse events. The reading room’s staff also helps Japanese language learners and community members interested in Japanese culture.
This September, the Kawasaki Reading Room will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Miss Mie will remain on view through October to mark the anniversary, as well as the doll’s 95th birthday.
“The Kawasaki Reading Room is hopeful that visitors will enjoy the history that Miss Mie provides through her relationship between Japanese and American children,” said Madoka Wayoro, the reading room’s director. “This relationship can be an example to mimic in regard to uniting the countries. The library staff is excited to host their 30th anniversary alongside the celebration of Miss Mie.”
Miss Mie will be displayed on the museum’s third floor. Access to the exhibit is included with admission. The exhibit was made possible with the support of the Luella Buros Family Foundation; Friends of the State Museum; donors to the Morrill Hall Fund and UNSM Exhibits Fund; The Latta and Perry W. Branch Fund; and the Agee Fund.
“Miss Mie remains a symbol of enduring kindness and optimism in the hearts of children,” Weller said. “We hope those who visit this exhibit will recognize the special friendship and honor her legacy by spreading kindness in their communities.”