Miss Mie has been in the University of Nebraska State Museum's Anthropology collections since 1928, after the historic friendship doll exchange took place between the youth of Japan and the United States.
The doll first arrived in the United States in 1927 when 58 friendship dolls were sent to the United States as gifts to American children from the children of Japan, intended as a gesture of goodwill during a period of increasing political tensions. Japanese children received Blue Eyed Dolls in exchange.
Small groups of these "goodwill ambassadors" traveled to 479 cities throughout the country that year. After the tour, some of the dolls found permanent homes in museums and other institutions throughout the United States, including the State Museum. As World War II began, the dolls were forgotten and not displayed for many years.
As part of an ongoing effort by the State Museum and the citizens of Mie to continue spreading Miss Mie's message of peace and understanding, the friendship doll exchange was rekindled.
In 2008, the 80th anniversary of the doll's arrival in Nebraska, the Japanese Miss Mie Homecoming Committee was formed. Members of the delegation visited Lincoln to view the doll, her accessories, and the over 150 letters written by children in 1927 that accompanied the doll. In July 2009, the committee raised funds for the doll's conservation and exhibition in the Mie Prefecture of Japan, her original home. After undergoing much-needed repairs by an expert doll conservator, Miss Mie was exhibited throughout the region, before returning to the State Museum in May 2010.
This exhibit showcases the newly restored doll and her intricate accessories, along with several Japanese cultural objects from the State Museum's Anthropology collections.
It is an honor to display Miss Mie, who remains a symbol of enduring kindness and optimism in the hearts of our children - and the special friendship that began over 80 years ago.
When Miss Mie arrived at the State Museum in 1928, a number of photos were included with her collection of accessories. Upon close examination of the photos, State Museum staff realized that the doll they had received was not the "real" Miss Mie.
Japanese officials explained that when the dolls reached America, some of them had evidently lost their identities because the dolls and their stands had not been kept together during the exhibition tour.
After some investigation, it was discovered that the original Miss Mie is housed at St. Joseph Museum in Missouri. The doll is recognized as Miss Hyogo, despite her origins.
Miss Mie's Homecoming Visit to Japan
In July 2009, Collections Assistant Susan Curtis escorted Miss Mie, along with her accessories and letters, to Mie Prefecture in south-central Japan. (The doll had her own seat on the airplane!)
Upon Miss Mie's arrival in Japan, Mr. Masaru Aoki, expert doll conservator from the historic Yoshitoku Company in Tokyo, assessed her condition and made repairs to her delicate complexion.
After the conservation work, Miss Mie was the center of several homecoming events in 10 cities throughout the region, including visits to the Governor of Mie Prefecture and various schools, and exhibitions in Mikimoto Pearl Museum and Tsu Matsubishi department store.
Over 30,000 people visited the Miss Mie exhibitions before the doll's return to Nebraska in May 2010.