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Chicago History Museum exhibit of creepy dolls helping tell city's ghost stories for Halloween

Creepy Dolls on display at Chicago History Museum
Creepy Dolls on display at Chicago History Museum 02:09

CHICAGO (CBS) -- When the lights go out at the Chicago History Museum on Halloween, dolls that have spent decades locked away in storage will emerge from the shadows to play.

The "Haunted Dolls and History's Horrors" collection is sharing ghost tales about our city's past.

Some new figures are hiding out inside the Chicago History Museum's "Crossroads of America" exhibit.

"There are 13 dolls that are lurking in areas that they do not belong," said Chicago History Museum director of curatorial affairs Charles Bethea.

Chicago History Museum creepy dolls
One of the 13 creepy dolls on display at the Chicago History Museum for the  "Haunted Dolls and History's Horrors" scavenger hunt to celebrate Halloween CBS

Until recently, the chilling toys were just haunting museum storage. Now visitors can stare into their vacant, glassy eyes; and learn some scary secrets about the city's past.

"All the dolls have dolls have link to Chicago and Chicago history," Bethea said.

Bethea said Chicago has plenty of ghost stories.

"From some real tragedies and disasters such as the Eastland disaster, or the Iroquois Theatre fire; to some of the more popularly known ghost tales like "The Woman in Gray," or "The Woman in Red," who threw herself off, allegedly, from the Congress Hotel," he said.

One particular doll has been in the museum's collection for decades, stored next to a gigantic distorted mirror.

"Her face, over the period of time, has become disfigured. So you have to ask, what did she see in that reflection?" Bethea said.


One of Bethea's favorites is "Lullaby Lucy," who has been spending her nights at the museum in a peaceful slumber. Or has she?

"So we're wondering. Is she dreaming? What are her nightmares of?" Bethea said.

Lullaby Lucy Chicago History Museum
Lullaby Lucy CBS

Visitors are provided clues about where to find the dolls, if they dare to search.

"There are definitely some that would send some chills up and down visitors' spines," Bethea said.

But like any nightmare, the dolls' visit is only temporary. Soon they'll find their way back to the museum's darkest corners, where they keep the city's deepest secrets.

Most of the dolls are more than 100 years old.

The museum offers two versions of the scavenger hunt; one for adults and a less scary one for kids.

If you want  to see the creepy dolls, they'll be on display through Sunday.

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