Friday, May 4, 2012

At a Scale of 1 to 12

The Mini Time Machine Museum of Minatures is a folly.... like the Taj Mahal, or the gazebo out in the back corner of Auntie's yard.   It's a place that makes perfect sense to its creators, and leaves the rest of us to come to terms with it in our own way..... or not. 

It was
created from the imagination and dedication of Founders, Patricia and Walter Arnell. Pat’s fondness for miniatures began in the 1930’s, when as a young girl she received her first miniatures- a set of Strombecker wooden dollhouse furniture.
Right away, I stopped to think.  A young girl with designer dollhouse furniture?  Daddooooo made Little Cuter a dollhouse and, like all of his projects, there was more love than craftsmanship in the end result.  G'ma decorated it with scraps of wallpaper and rug remnants from her house.  Nothing inside or outside this structure was a set of anything, let alone designer furniture. 

As I was quickly reminded by my friend and guide, these are not dollhouses.... except for the ones from the 1800's, and they didn't look like much fun at all.

Perhaps this was not meant as a toy, but as a living memory box.  Someone thought it was worthy of saving for 200 years; I was left to wonder why.

Most of it was quite magnificent.  The verbiage accompanying the displays sourced the items and the artists and the acquisitions, but there was no discussion of the style or meaning of the overblown
Yes, someone painted the ceiling and created the draperies
 or the ornate
versus the simpler Craftsman style
I was struck by the inlaid flooring.
Someone spent a lot of time fitting it just so.

The museum is also a repository of collections.
There are mini-shoes
and mini-dolls in mini-domes
and dragons on the shelf above the mini-shoes.
There is even a collection of a collection of mini-mini-dolls.
I'm starting to think about the boxes of little glass animals in Little Cuter's closet.
Who knew that they were museum-worthy?
We just thought she liked to look at them and rearrange them and talk to them.
They were her possessions.  Hers alone.  I don't remember her mentioning a desire to share .
The public library had a case in the doorway when we lived in Marin for locals to display their treasures.  This museum has taken that thought to an entirely new plane.

There were collections of every Hallmark Holiday House
on the walls
and in the floor
There were rooms full of Halloween scenes,
most of them focusing on witches.
The founders must really like witches.
This was on a door near the rest rooms,
and this was in a display case,
next to dozens of others of similar silliness.
I groaned aloud.
In truth, whimsy abounds in the Mini Time Machine.
The first room greets you with a floor to ceiling tree.
See that hole near the bottom?  Or are you too distracted by all the faces you're finding?
There are lots of those little holes and they hold lots of little scenes.
Precious doesn't begin to describe it..... and I use precious in all its connotations.
There are mice being adorable,
and there's this guy on a swing
and after a while I put my judgments aside and just let it flow.
The Rube Goldberg-esque back of the mechanical house
was a fitting place to end.
It was a device that Daddooooo would have admired and examined and explained.
He would have stood there for hours, following the wiring and connecting it to the relevant piece on the front.
He'd have shown me what made the people dance and slap and turn and I'd have been equally impatient and impressed.
I'm sure the creators of these follies have shared that moment, too.
We're all in this together, aren't we?
That's an awfully nice thought to have on a sunny Tucson morning.


  1. Holy moly! The detail is amazing. But the design of the not-dollhouse is a little over the top for me. As a child, it would be hard to not touch these. Patricia must have been one darned disciplined child.

    I like the Hallmark holiday houses. A friend collects those and she always has them displayed at Christmas time. They are fun to look at.

    Thanks for sharing your visit with us.

    Have a great weekend.

    Megan xxx

  2. As I was reminded, these are not toys... they are collectibles. Of course, if you had a little one around I don't know how you'd keep her from touching ... I can't conjure up a scene that doesn't involve tears :(

  3. What an amazing place. The human imagination is absolutely mind-boggling. How do we keep constantly coming up with new creations? We need to encourage it in the next generation, preserving the past and sharing it. Thank-you for sharing.

  4. Deborah, I love your attitude. That was the conclusion we reached at the end of our visit - the human mind is amazing!!!

    The museum has a summer camp, so they are doing some encouraging of their own, too.


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