Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tiny Treasures

On a good weather day last week my daughter and I visited the Art Institute in Chicago for a bit.

I hadn't been there since I visited with my son over a year ago. When I went with him we saw a lot of the new Modern Wing because that's what he was interested in seeing. Thank goodness for girls! This time I got to see the miniature Thorne rooms again, which I hadn't seen since the kids were little.

The Thorne rooms were the "creative endeavor" of Mrs. James Ward Thorne, a Chicago socialite who began collecting antique miniatures at a young age. Inspired by actual rooms in historic houses and museums, the permanent collection features 68 rooms that were made (commissioned by her) between 1934 and 1940, constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot. As a child growing up in Chicago, I remember visiting and drooling over these tiny rooms and furnishings, my nose pressed up to the  glass.

Here is a little peek at the rooms that never fail to amaze me.  Every time I see them it's like the first time and I catch my breath at the intricate work that went into the making of them.

If you look closely you can sometimes see rooms beyond the rooms . . .

It was hard to get good photos through the glass without getting my reflection. A photographer I'm not . . .

The "natural" lighting replicates sunlight coming in through the windows and doors.

If you ever visit Chicago, be sure to see these little treasures. Here's a link to some better photos.


  1. The rooms are enthralling... if I ever get back to Chicago, I'll be sure to visit this exhibit!

  2. OMGosh, I will have to come to Chicago just to see this exhibit. Thanks for sharing. My daughter is coming to visit today and I will have to share with her too.

  3. WOW! I need to get over there and visit that place! Awesome, awesome photos!

  4. Thank you SO much for sharing! I'm definitely adding this stop to my next trip!

  5. I always enjoyed taking my kids to the museums in Chicago. These minitures are facinating. I also always liked Colleen Moore's doll house at the Museum of Science and Industry. I love all the tiny treasures. Now my kids are all grown up and I live in New Mexico so I won't be back to see them for a while.

  6. The Thorne rooms have been a favorite of mine since childhood.
    Your photos of them are lovely.

  7. Qué maravilla!!! Sorry, I am so astonished that I forgot my english...

  8. I remember seeing them as a child and asking why I didn't have then for my room. I haven't been there in years. Only about 110 miles away, but never seem to get to Chicago.Chris

  9. Thank you so much for those incredible pictures. I am a long time lover of miniatures and would love to see these rooms in person. They brought tears to my eyes- good tears! You are so lucky to see them in person and I will hope that one day I can do the same.
    Peg in NJ

  10. Thankyou for sharing your trip to the Museum, what an incredible amount of work that went into creating these lovely replicas of a time long past. My fabourite was the kitchen, love old-fashioned kitchens!!!

  11. That looks so cool! I think you did a fine job of taking photos too!

  12. I love the Art Institute and remember the Thorne rooms well. Amazing stuff.

  13. Thanks for the tour, so much little details.

  14. No quilts on the beds?
    Too small?
    The photo's were perfect.
    I loved the little rooms.
    Thank you.

  15. Used to work downtown Chicago and was able to go to the Art Institute on their free days at lunch time. The Thorne rooms are amazing. Really something to see. Thanks for sharing, it's been a while for me. Connie204

  16. Oh, how very interesting! Thank you for sharing:))

  17. cool to see these in person! Definitely put the museum on my bucket list.
    If you ever visit the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach there is wing of the mansion dedicated to toys, dolls and miniatures.
    Thanks for the tour.


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