The Russian Christmas tree looks as if it were done by a down-and-out Romanoff, with Faberge-style balls done of painting reproductions and paste jewels. The one in the doll-house's parlor was obviously done by a small hand.
It's winter festival time. The Museum of History and Technology offers a family outing not so extensive as the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival, but a lot better than any pine needle-covered living room you may be sitting in.
On the principle of the Forklife Festival, the museum's Performing Arts Division has assembled a variety of performers and craftspeople, and then tucked them in and around the musuem as exhibits-in-the-flesh. From noon to 4 p.m. through Jan. 1, you can find puppet shows and hand-ball ringing, juggling and spinning, story-telling and lute-playing in various corners of the museum.
In the "Nation of Nations" hall, where the theme is immigration culture, a couple from Rockville carve nutcrackers the way their German ancestors did and tell inquisitive children that no, they are not related to the "Nutcracker" ballet.
By the Railroads exhibit, the crowd has turned its back on the bright life-sized trains, with their true histories and real sound effects, to watch electric trains go around and around and around and around.
Next to the toga-clad statue of George Washington, rejected by the Capitol on the objection that George was half naked, a juggler keeps three tennis racket in the air.
And everyone there is music - caroling, barber shop quarters, gospel music, holiday music from operas, renaissance music from lutes and viola d'amores and harpischords and fifes. You can hardly get from one show to the next without being stopped and asked - or enticed - to join in the chorus.
From the Santa Claus in goggles in the early ford at the Constitution Avenue entrance to the tiny wreath in the dollhouse window, regular exhibits is a whole hallway full of Christmas decorated by local clubs.
Music boxes and recording devices play Christmas tunes. The movie theater is showing children's pictures, including "A Child's Christmas in Wales," narrated by Dylan Thomas. A voice on the tour of the museum's period rooms describes the appropriate holiday customs for each. And the cafeteria features Swedish Christmas ham and Yorkshire pudding on its holiday menu.
The program, sponsored by McDonald's Restaurants, is a varued one, and you need the listings and maps provided by the museum to find what's where when.
It was extremely crowded yesterday - just to the point where a child can slip through those dense crowds to get a view of what's going on, but the accompanying adult could not. Of course the adult can always then wander off, see the regular exhibits in relative peace and come back at the end of the little shows. which may be the ideal way to visit a museum.