First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin today unveiled the newest commemorative doll in the First Ladies of West Virginia doll collection. The doll was hand-sculpted by Washington, D.C.-based artist Ping Lau and features First Lady Tomblin in her Inaugural Ball gown.
“”I have greatly enjoyed working with Ping and the Division of Culture and History to make my doll come to life, and I look forward to working with them in the future to feature our other first ladies who have not yet had dolls created for them,” First Lady Tomblin said. “I believe all our first ladies should be remembered with the dignity and respect they deserve, and it is my hope that this doll and the dolls to come will help preserve the images, personalities and legacies of all of West Virginia’s first ladies.”
The first lady doll project began in 1976, when Charleston ceramic artist Edna Henderson created twenty-eight first lady dolls for the inauguration of the Culture Center in Charleston. The dolls and the project itself were commissioned by the West Virginia Federation of Women’s Clubs. A permanent exhibit was installed in the Culture Center balcony, where it remains to this day. This unique exhibit examines the evolving role of West Virginia’s first ladies and features the popular ceramic doll collection. The display also includes fine china and silver used in the Governor’s Mansion, as well as elegant dresses worn by former first ladies.
The First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin doll will be on display in the theatre gallery on the first floor of the Culture Center until March 31. After that date, it will be added to the permanent First Ladies of West Virginia exhibit on the south side of the second floor balcony.