Editor's note: The Bruce Museum of Arts and Science provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Bruce Museum of Arts and Science directly through either this phone number or web address:


Small Scales IV: Miniature Rooms and Houses

October 29, 2005 - January 29, 2006


(above: Charles Matton, Saskia Awaiting Titus, 2002, mixed media box construction)


Sometimes big art comes in miniature packages. In presenting Small Scales IV: Miniature Rooms and Houses, the Bruce Museum of Arts and Science in Greenwich, Connecticut, updates a favorite exhibition that this year promises to be even more professional and comprehensive than ever. The show, supported in part by Round Hill Partners and the Charles M. and Deborah Royce Exhibition Fund, promises to be a holiday favorite and runs from October 29, 2005, through January 29, 2006. Guest curators and exhibitors Renée Hack and Peggy Fisher have searched far and wide for the finest examples of this art form. (right: Renée Hack, Royal Art Gallery, 2005, mixed media box construction)

Thirty-eight rooms and houses will be on view, representing the many types of miniatures. Most artists work in one-inch scale, but others in half-inch and even quarter-inch scale. Some take workshops and courses to perfect techniques while others improvise with found objects, beads, and even white columns from wedding cakes. With the tremendous growth of interest in miniatures as a legitimate art form, the show in recent years has become more professional representing outstanding artisans from throughout the United States and around the world.

"This year our exhibition has an historic emphasis, " says co-curator and miniaturist Renée Hack, "with examples of Thomas Jefferson's bedroom, General Ulysses S. Grant's dining room, Teddy Roosevelt's summer home, and Martha Washington's parlor."

The first miniatures show at the Bruce, held in 1981, was mounted by a group of local Greenwich enthusiasts to showcase their collections. However, the recorded history of small-scale replicas dates back much further -- to the days of ancient Egypt. In 17th century Europe, dollhouses and small kitchens were used as devices to teach children housekeeping and social graces through the petite furnishings.

"This year's exhibition at the Bruce Museum features outstanding original work," says co-curator Peggy Fisher. "The way these tiny settings come alive is pure magic!" (left: Peggy Fisher, Antique Shop, 2005, mixed media construction)

Among the most striking displays are the room boxes made by French artist and sculptor Charles Matton. He has created every work of art within the scenes and has added remarkable perspective and mirror tricks.

A once neglected gem recently restored by Barbara Powers of Locust Valley, NY, is a replica of a room in Sagamore Hill, President Teddy Roosevelt's home on Long Island. Members of the North Country Garden Club built tables, chairs, and even elephant tusks and taxidermied mounts to win first prize for the room in a national Garden Club of America competition in 1975. Other Long Island miniaturists are well represented. Lee Lefkowitz, an avid collector, is lending her three-story display with nine vignettes of superb antique desks placed in period settings. From Manhasset, Karen Ettinger shows her live-in artist studio, and Shirlee Greenberg has built a pastel dining room to fit her 8x10-inch needlepoint rug. Shirlee, who holds the highest honor in miniatures as a Fellow of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans, designed and created the rug by hand in six months, working five hours per day, making 1,600 - 3,600 stitches per square inch.

A charming New York street scene comes from Betty Evans of Greenwich and New York City. Mrs. Evans, a serious collector of miniatures for many years, has organized successful New York auctions of miniature rooms designed by decorators with proceeds going to charities.

The miniaturist/curators, who are also Greenwich residents, have several exquisite creations in the show. Peggy Fisher is contributing a contemporary kitchen, an antique shop, and a garden shed, and Renée Hack is lending her royal art gallery and antique shop.

Other lenders in this region include Eileen Godfrey, of Pound Ridge, NY, whose living room with a safari theme was painted by Therese Bahl. Eileen's son Craig Scolaro made a 3-story bakery. And Ketsia Melendez of Brooklyn, NY, has created a delicious chocolate shop and a jewelry boutique. Dr. DuRee Eaton of New Rochelle, NY, has lent her marvelous rendition of Monet's dining room at Giverny. Giving great attention to detail, Duree took two trips to Giverny and spent seven years to bring the copy -- with its custom-made tiny yellow chairs, cabinets of blue china, blue-and-white tiles, Japanese fan flower holder, and even an authentic centerpiece of mimosa-- to completion.

One of the exhibition favorites will be Sylvia Rountree's "Cobbler Emporium" filled with dozens of tiny shoes. Sylvia of Berlin, MD, makes every pair of shoes herself, from children's Mary Jane's to satin and rhinestone slippers. (right: Charles Matton, Library: Homage to James Joyce, 2004, mixed media box construction)

In addition, the Museum is fortunate have on view beautiful in-scale productions rooms of Thomas Jefferson's bedroom and General Ulysses S. Grants' dining room created by the renowned Eugene Kupjack and on loan from the Forbes Collection. A former diamond setter, Eugene Kupjack (1912-1991) crafted more than 700 technically perfect and realistic miniature interiors over 50 years. He was commissioned in 1934 by Mrs. Narcissa Thorne to produce a series of miniature rooms portraying 29 periods in European architecture and interior decoration. The Thorne rooms, which are on permanent exhibit at The Art Institute of Chicago, became the hallmark for miniature exhibits and changed the direction of miniatures into an art form. Mr. Kupjack's sons, Hank and Jay carry on this high quality work in their Illinois studio.

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Bruce Museum in Resource Library.

Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2005 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.