Thursday, November 2, 2017

Handwork in miniature

The Art Institute of Chicago is known for its collection of 68 miniature dioramas depicting rooms from different places and times.  They were made after extensive research into the authentic furniture and architecture styles, and crafted meticulously in the 1930s under the direction of Mrs. James Ward Thorne, a rich benefactor of the museum.

The rooms are done to a scale of one inch to one foot, and situated low in the walls, with a convenient step beneath each one so small visitors can get a good view.

I was intrigued to see that the inhabitant of the New England Bedroom, 1750-1850, was at work on an embroidery in a standing hoop.

It's apparently an allover floral design, only half finished.  And what a bright, sunny, spacious room in which to sit with your needle in front of the fireplace!


  1. I was in Chicago for the first time this fall and fell in love with the miniatures room. The whole museum is fabulous, but that was one of my favorite parts, not to mention unexpected. Anyone going there- make sure you don't miss it!

  2. I have the book Minature Rooms: The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. It's fascinating; I can only imagine the pleasure of seeing this in person.

  3. 65 years ago I was one of those who use the step to "see". Have not been back in decades... happy to hear they are still there. Now I have a granddaughter so in a few years I may take to "see".

  4. I was little in Phoenix AZ, and the Phoenix Art Museum had a very similar exhibit, down to the little step in front of the windows. It was my absolute favorite. I LOVED those little rooms. I don't remember many of them, but one was a little kitchen with drying herbs and pots and pans hanging everywhere. Another was a more modern looking living room, that reminded me of my grandmother's house. I wanted a dollhouse like those so bad! I wonder if they were created by the same artist.

  5. I'm always amazed how realistic the items are in these. I fear visiting too many miniature-makers' blogs because I'm afraid I'll think I need yet another hobby.

    IIRC, Piecework magazine had an article on these (focusing on the needelwork items?) some time ago.