Which of These Historical Dolls Is the Creepiest?
Vote for one of the nine finalists from a Minnesota museum’s collection
A museum in Minnesota has pulled together a truly chilling collection of historical dolls—just in time for spooky season.
Back by popular demand, the History Center of Olmsted County’s Creepy Doll Contest is inviting the public to vote for whichever doll they find the eeriest. This year’s selection will have shivers crawling up your spine.
The results will be announced at the Creepy Doll Cocktail Party on October 29 at the Rochester Art Center in downtown Rochester, Minnesota. Horror enthusiasts who aren’t local to Minnesota can vote online and follow along on social media.
“All the dolls will be there,” Wayne Gannaway, the history center’s executive director, tells MPR News’ Cathy Wurzer. “We are going to … put a tiara on the winning doll. And we will also have a themed drink that we think the dolls might very well enjoy if they were alive.”
This year’s theme is “Cult Classics,” which mixes local theater history in Rochester with scary movie history more broadly, the center writes on its website. “Each doll has chosen a starring role in a cult classic film of yesteryear to take you on a terrifying trip down memory lane!”
The nine candidates vying for your vote—and a starring role in your darkest dreams—include “Frida Hitchcock,” a very evil-looking baby in a bonnet; “Sally Strode,” a little brunette with messy braids and an uncannily large forehead; and “Samantha Raimis,” a blond doll with a 1920s-era haircut and an expression that was perhaps meant to be coy but comes across as thoroughly sinister. The dolls’ names are inspired by famous horror characters and filmmakers, from Alfred Hitchcock, prolific director of suspense-filled classics like Psycho and The Birds, to Sam Raimi, creator of the Evil Dead franchise.
“If you think about them, most dolls are emulating a human figure. But they’re missing one big thing, which is emotion,” director John Leonetti told the Huffington Post’s Jessica Goodman in 2014. “So they’re shells. It’s a natural psychological and justifiable vehicle for demons to take it over. If you look at a doll in its eyes, it just stares. That’s creepy. They’re hollow inside. That space needs to be filled.”
The Olmsted County center launched the inaugural creepy doll contest in 2019 to draw attention to historical conservation and showcase some of the center’s definitely-not-cursed collection of objects. The contest went viral, and the organization’s staff has been bringing us creepy content every year since.
“We have more than 100 dolls, so we’ve got a long ways to go before we exhaust our supply,” says Gannaway. “And then we’ve got even more doll accessories so for some time to come now. Plus, people keep sending us more dolls, so who knows where it’ll end?”