Small Talk

Let’s Play House

Let’s Play House

The dollhouse is one of the most popular and enduring toys of all time. Why you ask? Because it fulfills so many needs: creativity, invention, psychological exploration, and self-discovery. Let’s Play House explores the collection’s dollhouses and the little girls that played with them, including Mamie Burt and Josephine Bird. These nineteenth-century homes are from the great age of dollhouses. During this period, affluent parents commissioned the houses as a training tool for their daughters’ future roles as wives, mothers, and household managers. That’s some big shoes to fill!

By the twentieth century, dollhouse play focused more on imagination than household management (thank goodness!). The museum’s Tynietoy dollhouse is now on display with recent acquisitions to the collection, including a 1974 Fisher-Price Play Family “A” Frame and a 1950s Louis Marx and Company “L” Shaped Ranch Dollhouse complete with a swimming pool!

Just a Quick Cat Nap

Just a Quick Cat Nap

There is certainly no shortage of cats on the internet these days, but we like to think this miniature cat lounging in its bed takes the prize for one of the most fabulous! The Louis XVI style canopy bed was created in 1:12 scale by artist Bernd Franke. The wooden features of the bed are hand carved and gilded in a neoclassical design, typical of the late eighteenth century. Two cylindrical bolster pillows keep this kitty comfy on the geometrical patterned upholstery, another hallmark of the period.

The fluffy white cat curled up on the bed was made by artist Tina Selden Nickel using modeling compound covered in real fur. It’s hard to imagine a real cat not going crazy over dangling ostrich feathers, ribbons, bows, and silk fringe, but one thing’s for sure: this cat bed is decadent enough to make the Fancy Feast cat jealous!

We’re Back At It!

We’re Back At It!

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is back in business. After rushing to the finish line to put the final touches on all new exhibits and interactive experiences, we reopened to the public on August 1, 2015. Since then, we’ve welcomed over 12,000 guests and hope that you will be among them soon.

If Kansas City is a little too far away, put it on your bucket list and stay tuned for blog posts on all of our new exhibits from dollhouses in Let’s Play House to an exploration of how in the world artist’s can possibly make works of art that small in In The Artist’s Studio.

Narcissa’s Knoxville Rooms

Narcissa’s Knoxville Rooms

While viewing the fine-scale miniature collection here at T/m, many of our guests quickly draw a comparison to the famous Thorne Rooms at The Art Institute of Chicago. Created in the 1930s and ‘40s by Narcissa Thorne and numerous artists, these miniature room settings depict historical decorative arts periods in America.

You might be surprised to learn that a sizable collection of nine of Thorne’s room settings are in the permanent collection of the Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA) in Tennessee. In 1962, IBM (yup, the computer company) purchased many of the rooms, nine of which made their way to Knoxville. Visitors to KMA can travel through time via a miniature medieval bedroom, a federal dining room, and an early American kitchen. The room settings there represent not only important decorative arts movements, but also the early years of fine-scale miniature art.
Photo: Federal Dining Room, c. 1810, Knoxville Museum of Art.

Give a Hoot, Save Your Loot!

Give a Hoot, Save Your Loot!

While a piggy may be the most recognizable type of bank, cast iron banks in all shapes and figures were favored in the 19th century. Mechanical banks made the act of saving fun! These banks deposited coins by some sort of mechanical process… think humans or animals kicking, jumping, dancing, or doing handstands!

Mechanical banks were first manufactured in the late 1800s as the Industrial Revolution created a middle class that heralded the importance of earning and saving money combined with tinkerers of the Victorian Era experimenting with springs and windup devices. J.H. Bowen patented this toy “money box” in 1880. The financially savvy would place a coin on the branch. When a lever on the back of the bank is pressed, the owl’s head rotates and the coin gets deposited inside.

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