Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Incredibly Small World

Like many collections, Pat Arnell's began in the 1930's with a gift--a set of Strombecker wooden dollhouse furniture. The young girl's seed of an interest in miniatures didn't reach a growth spurt until 1979, when her collecting began in earnest.

The result of Pat's interest is the 15,000 square-foot Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, which houses one of the finest collections of over 260 miniature houses and roomboxes.

The scale of the miniatures on display is 1:12, i.e., one inch of the miniature equals twelve inches of the original. The violin-maker's shop within the normal size violin provides some indication of this ratio.

As we walked among the displays, it seemed that each had many features that caught our eye, and it was the inlay floor designs that captured my attention in this home.

Imagining the time that it took to make each of these toys in the Doll Shop was just one more component at which to marvel.

In the case of the Potter's Studio, my eye was drawn to the completed pieces of pottery on the shelves of the unit in the lower left hand corner. (Double clicking the photo will enlarge the image.)

Farrow's was identified only as a department store in the Midwest. One version of the miniature's history is that the employees made it and furnished it with all the items the company sold.

This elaborate home (right and below) was identified as "Just Suits" and was built from walnut cigar boxes. The person who built the home died in a buggy accident two weeks after completing the structure.
To recognize the builder's death, a skeleton was placed by the lamp post (photo above) and a horseless buggy was placed near the side of the home (right).

This 18th Century Nuremberg Kitchen (built in 1742) is painted in the traditional "beer color." The number of pewter ware, copper pots, and kettles were impressive.

This is the collection's oldest piece.

Another kitchen in the gallery, called the
"Nuremberg Turn-of-the-Century Kitchen," was manufac-tured in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The room is stocked with all of the necessities, from dustpans and brooms to cabinets and tables.

The kitchen reflects the real-life kitchen of the time. So real, in fact, that this model was used to teach young girls how to use the kitchen.

What is, perhaps, the highlight of the museum's Exploring the World gallery is "Chateau Meno," an elaborate 14-room palace in the Rococo style of French architecture.

The remaining photos show the detail in the construction of some of the 14 rooms.

It had been owned by a Georgia woman who had made it her life's work to construct the chateau in her basement.

She had no background in miniatures when she started the project, but taught herself how to do everything necessary to complete the house.

It took the woman 30 years to finish the house and she found some innovative ways to complete the chateau.

The house's designer used the top of a lipstick tube to create trash cans, and some of the home's many decorative chandeliers were made using the metal rings on canning jars.

The attention to detail is impressive. We couldn't comprehend the meticulous approach to the measurements and construction of the pieces that went into each room.

With 14 rooms, that was an average of two-plus years to furnish each room. Amazing. Incomprehensible.

Disneyland may have a "cruise" through Fantasy-land's "It's a Small World," but the Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures in Tucson offers a walk through an Incredibly Small World.

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