Artist leaves behind lifelike legacy in Le Mars, IA - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Artist leaves behind lifelike legacy in Le Mars, IA

LE MARS, Iowa (KTIV) -

One Ida County, Iowa man spent many winters perfecting his craft. Now, Robert Smith's legacy lives on through his lifelike art.

From the nail polish on her toes to the necklace around her neck, each detail was specifically chosen for this "dolly" and 80 other "dollies" that are housed in the Plymouth County Historical Museum.

"He did these because he loved art and he was inspired by the Italian dollies," Smith's Longtime Family Friend and Museum Administrator Judy Bowman said.

The late Robert Smith debuted his first 5 "dollies" back in 1977 on his farm north of Battle Creek, Iowa.

"You're not going to see this collection or anything like it anywhere in the world," Bowman said.  

In fact, Bowman said the Smithsonian appraised them a few decades ago at Smith's request. And, she said Smith created each one to have their own unique back story.

"He had a great sense of humor, Robert Smith did, and no doll had the same story," Bowman said.

And, the stories aren't the only thing that make them lifelike.

"Each dolly is anatomically correct. And, Mr. Smith made sure each dolly was jointed at the knees, and at the elbows, and at the wrists, and at the neck" Bowman said.

Some of the dollies were made to be seated, and each one of them is about 5/8 the size of an average human. Each one is hand-crafted from wood from Smith's farm. He also sewed all of the clothing, and that's not all.

"He also made all the furniture for them, which varies from a bathtub to a spinning wheel," Bowman said.

All of the furniture and "dollies" are now permanently housed at the museum, which is a great honor for Bowman.

"It was a dream come true to have them here," Bowman says.

She said they've attracted people from all over the country, and she hopes more people come out to see them and learn each of their stories.

Bowman said the funding for the"dollies" permanent display at the Plymouth County Historical Museum came from local option sales tax.

If you want to check out the "dollies" for yourself, the Plymouth County Historical Museum is open Tuesday - Sunday from 1:00p.m. to 5:00p.m. They are also open by special appointment.

The museum is located at 335 1st Ave SW in Le Mars, Iowa.

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