The Bonniebrook grounds are home to the Rose O’Neill Art Gallery, Kewpie Museum, Bonniebrook House and research library where the story of Rose O’Neill unfolds through a combination of letters, poems, shopping lists, land records and photographs.
Rose O’Neill was born in Pennsylvania in 1874 and was a talented artist from a very young age. Her father thought she would find more success in New York City, so she relocated and lived with the Sisters of St. Regis who helped her market her portfolio of drawings to potential buyers. It was in New York city that she found fame and became a renowned illustrator. She began to bring in a good amount of income and sent most of it home to help support her family.
Rose’s father eventually claimed a homestead in the Ozarks which Rose later visited and fell head over heels in love with. The area is said to have inspired many of her greatest works. He used the money Rose sent to build a 14 room Ozark Mansion. It was the first home in Taney Country with an indoor bathroom, telephone and electricity.
During one of her stays at the Bonniebrook House, Rose created the infamous Kewpie characters and the cartoon became famous right away. In 1912, the character was manufactured into dolls by a German company and the Kewpie doll became one of the first mass-marketed toys in America.
Rose was more than just an artist though. A woman way ahead of her own time, she was extremely active in the women’s suffrage movement and contributed in an effort to overcome the late 19th century idea that women’s artwork was inferior to art created by men.
Although the original Bonniebrook House burned to the ground in January of 1947, The Bonniebrook Historical Society rebuilt a recreation of the home and furnished it to match the styles of Rose’s era.
Bring your family and explore the beautiful grounds in the Ozarks that inspired O’Neill, tour the historical Bonniebrook House, browse the Kewpie Museum that houses antique Kewpie items from the early 20th century and pick up a souvenir from the onsite gift shop.
A family trip to the Bonniebrook Gallery, Museum and Homestead is just a short drive from Branson and certainly makes for a day of interesting history and exploration for all.
Bonniebrook is located at 485 Rose O’Neill Rd., Walnut Shade, MO, 1/4 mile south of the Branson Zipline. It’s open April 1-October 31 Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
For more information and admission prices visit http://roseoneill.org/mainpage.html#/.