US Culture: Thorne Miniature Rooms

Tuesday, August 9, 2022


When visiting the Thorne Miniature Rooms in the Chicago Art Institute, you are invited to peer through 68 windows that look into 68 distinctly different rooms — very, very tiny rooms. 

Constructed on a 1:12 scale, in other words, a scale of 1 inch (2.5 cm) to 1 foot (0.30 m), the Thorne Miniature Rooms are replications of rooms found in America and Europe from the 13th century to the 1930s. Even more spectacular, they are made primarily of the same materials as full-sized rooms.

In the 1930s, through the imagination of Narcissa Niblack Thorne, the creator of the Thorne Rooms, a total of 100 rooms were intricately designed by skilled Chicago craftsmen. There are 68 rooms at the Chicago Art Institute, with the remaining rooms in galleries throughout the country. 

I remember looking at these little rooms with fascination when I was a child, and I still feel the same enchantment today when I visit the Thorne Miniatures. 

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