These rooms are ALL MINIATURES! The are all 1:12 scale (1" =1 foot). Sixty-eight of these miniature rooms have been on display at the Art Institute of Chicago for several decades, delighting generations of people who have visited them. They were all created in the 1930's by Mrs. James Ward Thorne.
Mrs. James Ward Thorne
Mrs. Thorne was a young Chicago socialite who traveled extensively throughout high society in Europe and America. Her lifelong passion was collecting miniatures. After WWI, many of Europe's grand interiors were being dismantled as tastes changed. Some museums were starting to create period full-scale rooms to show what life was like in the old days. Mrs. Thorne thought it would be a great idea to create miniature versions of such rooms for educational and historical purposes.
Mrs. Thorne had been amassing expensive miniatures created by European artisans, and creating rooms in which to display them was her intent. She hired the best team of craftsmen and her first 30 rooms were such a big hit, that she created more, instructing the craftsmen in architectural details and all aspects of her designs. The craftsmen and women designed the furniture, rugs and draperies under Mrs. Thorne's direction. She continued to create miniatures her entire life.
The 68 Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute were presented to the museum in 1940 after being displayed at various World's Fairs and museums. A permanent exhibit was finished in 1954. Other rooms created by Mrs. Thorne are on permanent display in the Phoenix Museum and the Dulin Gallery in Knoxville.
The Thorne Rooms have been a love of mine since I was a little girl. Although I don't have a lot of miniatures of my own, I always had a dream of someday having a dollhouse full of detailed miniatures and rooms just like the ones created by Mrs. Thorne.
The images shown are from a great book about the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. Although only 4 of the rooms are from the Victorian period, I love them all. If you haven't seen them, you must make the trip to Chicago someday for a visit to the Art Institute.