Bruce Museum

Greenwich, CT

(203) 869-0376


Small Scales II: Greenwich Miniaturists

November 27, l999 through January 17, 2000


The Bruce Museum of Arts and Science presents Small Scales II: Greenwich Miniaturists on display November 27, 1999 through January 17, 2000. This year's exhibition features approximately 35 miniature rooms, vignettes and houses created by the Greenwich Miniaturists, a group of area women dedicated to the art and craft of making small scale houses and rooms. On view are miniature versions of a baby's nursery, a greenhouse decorated for Christmas, a tiny circus, a townhouse, a Georgian doll house furnished with upstairs and downstairs staff, an Egyptian museum gallery, a teenage girl's bedroom, Noah's ark, an Indian Rajah's party, and an original miniature room made by Narcissa Thorne.

The Greenwich Miniaturists began their club over 20 years ago. A group of area women interested in learning how to make miniatures formed an association, meeting once a month in members' homes to exchange ideas, teach each other techniques, and work on projects together. Since their founding, the Greenwich Miniaturists have exhibited regularly at the Bruce Museum, often attracting as many as 20,000 visitors to their shows. Their most recent Small Scales exhibition at the Bruce took place in 1996. The Greenwich Miniaturists now includes members from throughout Connecticut and New York's Westchester County. Members range in age from 40 to 92. (left: A Southern Parlor, designed by Brooke Tucker and executed by Barbara Miller, one inch to one foot scale)

"We view the construction of our rooms and scenes as historical representations of an era, said Stubby Crowe, President of the Greenwich Miniaturists. "Rooms can combine a variety of styles and periods, but each piece must be an accurate representation of the original.

Most miniaturists assemble their vignettes and doll houses through a combination of making and purchasing furniture and accessories for their small scenes. The majority of houses and rooms are made in a one-inch scale, in which one inch equals one foot, although some miniaturists use half-inch and quarter-inch scales.

Small scale replicas are not new; their recorded history dates back to ancient Egypt. They began as children's learning tools, teaching social graces and the decorative arts through play. In 17th century Europe, the Princess Dorothea of Schwarzburg-Gotha (1666-1751) spent many years and considerable sums of money having artisans build a miniature Bavarian town peopled with figures depicting its court life. The diorama remains in Amstadt as a documentation of its time.

The best known miniaturist, and one who changed the direction of this hobby, was Narcissa Thorne. In the 1930s it was fashionable for museums to display full-scale period rooms, but the cost in money and space was becoming prohibitive. By this time, Mrs. Thorne had collected an enormous quantity of miniature antique furniture and accessories. She commissioned a series of miniature rooms for the Art Institute of Chicago - which are now part of the Institute's permanent collection - that accurately portray 29 periods of European architecture and interior design. In so doing, she transformed small scale replicas into an art form. Small Scales II: Greenwich Miniaturists includes the "Old English Bookshop," an original miniature made by Narcissa Thorne in the latter part of her career. (right: The Elegant Bath, designed by Brooke Tucker and executed by Peggy Fisher, one inch to one foot scale)

"Ail age groups can appreciate these creations," said Renee Hack, a founding member of the Greenwich Miniaturists and organizer of the exhibition. "They appeal to the public as finely detailed, technical marvels as well as historic preservation pieces."

The exhibition is underwritten by Ernst & Young, with additional support from Elizabeth Read Weber, ASID.

Read more about the Bruce Museum in Resource Library Magazine.


rev. 11/22/10

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