Small Talk Tag: Miniature

We’re Back At It!

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

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

knoxville museum of art thorne 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.

The Smallest Samurai

miniature samurai

Japanese Samurais wore some of the most intricate and artful armor in world history. Starting in the year 792, landowners in Japan began assembling their own defensive forces which gave rise to Samurai culture. Teams of craftsmen were involved in the process of creating their dazzling armor, including metalsmiths, leather workers, painters, and more.

Recreated here in 1:12 scale , artist Isabella Gallaon-Aoki single-handedly undertook the efforts of that entire team of full-scale craftspeople. The diminutive warrior is bedecked in a costume made of jacquard silk, hand painted leather, and fur accents. Atop his kabuto, or helmet, is a carved golden dragon. While we can’t confirm or deny that the collection objects come to life at night like in Night at the Museum, we like to think this guy would guard his fellow miniatures with exceptional skill using his bow, known as a yumi.

A Bitty Baby House

miniature baby house

Contrary to what the name might lead you to believe, this 1:12 scale miniature isn’t actually meant to represent a “house for babies.” The term baby house refers to 17th and 18th-century dollhouses, typically in the Netherlands and England. This early type of dollhouse was usually a wooden cabinet on legs, with compartments decorated and furnished like a miniature estate.

This Baby House was constructed by artist Gilbert Mena. It features turned legs and finials and two functional doors decorated with one-point perspective marquetry scenes. The rooms within the baby house were made by artist Nell Corkin, who had the task of miniaturizing furnishings that would have been already tiny in full-scale! If you look closely, you’ll find diminutive delftware, two neatly made beds, and even a dollhouse pet resting on a pillow.

From Whittling to Wood Carving: Tudor Furniture

Tudor Furniture

In addition to the beautiful wood carvings adorning this Tudor bedroom’s walls and ceiling, Thomas Warner crafted the furniture. The chairs with crossed legs and the four-poster bed’s ornate details are carved out of walnut. The bible stand, or prie-dieu, is also intricately carved with a cross and features a slanted and hinged top.

Additional miniature artists lent their skills to furnish the room with rich textiles: needlework from Annelle Ferguson, upholstery by Frank Hanley and Jeffery Gueno (of Le Chateau Interiors), and an embroidery frame and gold jewel box by William R. Robertson.

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