The Thorne Miniature Rooms

Virginia Dining Room, c. 1800

People have long been fascinated by the detail and precision with which very small art works can be made. The Thorne Miniature Rooms are examples of this fascination for the world in miniature. At an exacting scale of one inch to the foot, several of the rooms replicate actual rooms found in the United States and Europe, while the remainder faithfully depict the architecture and interior design of their periods and countries.

The rooms were conceived, designed, and in large part created by Narcissa Niblack Thorne (1882-1966). An Indiana native, Thorne began to collect miniature furniture and household accessories during her travels to Europe and the Far East. Impressed with the period rooms she encountered in major museums, beginning in 1930 Thorne commissioned craftsmen and artisans to build interiors to hold her growing collection of miniature objects. Many of the rooms even contain period-style rugs Thorne had woven specifically for each space.

The original thirty Thorne Miniature Rooms were displayed at the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress Exposition and seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors. They gained national attention when featured in a 1940 LIFE magazine article. In total, Thorne completed nearly one hundred rooms. Twenty of the original thirty were given to the fledgling Phoenix Art Museum in 1962, and have been on view here ever since. Other examples can be found at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Knoxville Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Children's Museum, the Kay Miniature Museum of Los Angeles, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England.

New Mexico Dining Room, c. 1940

Tennessee Entrance Hall, 1835

Virginia Kitchen, 18th Century

Virginia Drawing Room, 1754

Maryland Dining Room, 1770-74

Shaker Living Room, c. 1800

New York Parlor, 1850-70

Pennsylvania Drawing Room, 1834-36

New England Bedroom, 1750-1850

Cape Cod Living Room, 1750-1850

Rhode Island Parlor, c. 1820

Massachusetts Dining Room, 1795

German Sitting Room of the "Biedermeier" Period, 1815-50

French Boudoir of the Louis XV Period, 1740-60

English Great Room of the Late Tudor Period, 1550-1603
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