Nuts About Nutcrackers
On view: November 15, 2019 – March 8, 2020
The Museum is pleased to present a mini-exhibition of nutcrackers this holiday season. The bulk of the exhibit is on loan from the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth, Washington.
Archeological evidence shows that nuts have been a staple of the human diet as far back as can be traced with evidence of simple stone tools being crafted to open the shells. Throughout history, few tools have had such variety and style as the nutcracker. By the 15th century, European artisans had transformed the practical tool into functional works of art, most famous are the carved wooden nutcracker dolls.
Traditionally nutcracker dolls looked like toy soldiers and were the inspiration for author E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which was adapted into a ballet in 1892 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Performances and recordings of the Nutcracker have since become a part of Western Christmas traditions. In an odd twist, many crafters of nutcracker dolls put form over function, and the over-designed tools became purely decorative.
The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum was founded in 1995 by George and Arlene Wagner, who donated their enormous nutcracker collection and the building in which it is housed. The Museum’s collection has continued to grow and now contains over 7000 specimens, probably the world’s most extensive collection of nut-opening devices.