Miniature World: Victoria, BC, Canada

On my recent vacation to the Pacific Northwest, we stumbled on this gem of a museum around the corner from the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

Of course I had to go inside!

It’s less a museum for individual dollhouses or miniature artisans but dioramas and scenes in miniature. Very well done and so cool.

Click photos for larger versions.

They had quite a few scenes of battles in WWII and WWI. Somewhat depressing but also so very well done!

The scene below is called “Chelsea 1815” when the victory over Napoleon was announced.

There was much more than military miniatures, however! So much.

They have a continuous diorama showing cities all across Canada at the turn of the twentieth century. Toronto, Quebec, the Maritimes, Calgary, and more.

I looked very hard for Murdoch’s house and Police Station number 5. 🙂

Another Napoleonic display.

This was a display of many famous European castles if they were all close to each other. 🙂

Nice display of WWII planes.

A car show on the green in a small town.

Below are dioramas of First Nations houses and totem poles.

Gulliver captured in Lilliput.

A coach heading for Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

Below: Charing Cross in London in the 17th century (Samuel Pepys diary).

I don’t remember which town this was, but, if you look into the window of the theater, you see a “movie.” What you see is your own face. It’s cute.

London again, and the Thames River.

There were many whimsical displays as well, like the dwarves diamond mine from Snow White.

They do have a few dollhouses, including this lovely house. It is fully enclosed with the layout of a real house, with large windows for viewing the inside.


Swiss Family Robinson’s treehouse.

These are some highlights, but there was much more, including a space station:

So glad we found this place!

Way Cool Miniatures

I want to share some of the coolest minis I’ve found. The first is a box of Lord of the Rings books and maps in Spanish. I bought this from the artisan (who is from Spain) on an online sale that was chock full of wonderful things. I had to restrain myself.

(Señor Anillos means, in literal translation, “Ring Lord”)

The side of the box with the cast of the film version.

Inside are the three main books of the series (Fellowship; Two Towers; Return of the King), plus a secret drawer!

The books are printed throughout. This one is The Fellowship of the Ring.

Inside the secret drawer all all kinds of maps! There is one from the Hobbit and also the ones that lead to Mount Doom.

The craftsmanship on this set is wonderful. I first read The Lord of the Rings when I was about twelve, and nerded out on it big time.

This set satisfies both the nerd in me as well as the miniaturist. It really is beautiful.

Next is the Metamorphic Desk by Ferd Sobol.


Backing up–When I went to Europe a couple years ago, one reason I booked the trip we did was because it ended in Basel, giving me a day of free time to go to the Miniature Museum there. (I know how to plan…) I’ve posted photos of what I found there elsewhere (Basel Miniature Museum (Spielzeug Welten Museum)

There they displayed a metamorphic desk:



I loved it! When I saw that Ferd Sobol had built one, I ordered one from him when I attended the Chicago show last year. He makes limited editions and I knew that when they were gone, they’d be gone and I’d regret it forever if I didn’t grab one, so I indulged. Hey, I work hard. I should have a beautiful desk, right?

Here it is in the left half of my Beacon Hill. The chair pulls out, the two halves slide open, and a drawer compartment pops up. (The drawer contains secret letters!)

I got to choose the wood, the inlay design, and the fabric for the chair.

You can see it a little better here, and below:

It’s beautiful, and the workmanship is superb (he is brilliant). Here’s a link to a video about the desk, from Ferd Sobol’s site–you can see it better than in my photos.

These two are so far my coolest minis. Both are displayed in the left half of the Beacon Hill, which is my “show house.”

Mini Museums–Europe

A couple weeks ago, I ran off for a long vacation with my sweetie, on the lookout for minis! I made a pilgrimage to the Spielzeug Museum in Nurnberg, Germany, which I had visited long ago (it has grown), and found a mini museum in Prague which unfortunately I did not have time to visit.

First the museum in Prague I had to miss. It is in the grounds of the Strahov Monastery near the castle district. Many restaurants and beer halls in the area to make for a fun day. I was up there after everything was closed, sadly. If I’d known it was there earlier …

Happily, I did make it to the Spielzeug Museum (Toy Museum) in Nurnberg. I was on a walking tour, we had free time, and my first question was “Where’s the Spielzeug Museum?” It was two blocks away, and I was there!

The Museum occupies this pretty building (with construction tape–they were fixing the sidewalk).

Select photos of kitchens and dollhouses.

They have many toys and games from days gone by as well. I thought these kits of metal pieces that makes a car or working pump pretty cool.

Noah’s Ark in a box.

You look through these little peepholes to see a 3D image inside. It doesn’t look very 3D to my phone’s camera, but it did to my eyeballs. Scenes seemed to stretch to infinity.


More fun stuff that caught my eye!


This little train goes back and forth across the door opening, with chugging and puffing sounds.


The crowning glory of the top floor:


They run the train on the last Saturday of the month, and I was there on the first Saturday. Oh well! It was still a wonderful train layout.

Of course, I needed a souvenir! Reuter Porcelain had this little set for Nurnberg in the museum’s little gift shop.

After that I went down the street, bought a bag of chocolate truffles at a lovely pastry shop called Neef, and returned to the tour bus on time. A great outing. 🙂 (And the truffles were excellent.)

Basel’s Miniature Museum (Spielzeug Welten Museum)

For years, I’ve been seeing the ad for the miniature museum in Basel, Switzerland in the Miniature Collector. On my trip to Europe, I was able to stay in Basel for a couple of days (ok, so I planned that!!). Of course I went right to this wonderful museum! It’s amazing! From antiques to a wonderful, wonderful “street of shops” display (on the “special exhibits” floor–I almost missed it!), this museum has something for everyone.

This post features pics mostly of the antiques section, which was the first couple of floors. I’ll do a second post highlighting the street of shops, which was just awesome!

Highly recommend the Spielzueg-Welt Museum if you are anywhere near Basel. Note, there are two Spielzeug museums in Basel. This one is Spielzeug Welten at #1 Steinenvorstadt (the street name), which is on the corner of a lovely shopping and eating district (so there are plenty of places to have lunch). Trams number 8, 11, and 6 stop in Barrfusserplatz, which is about a one-minute walk from the museum. The trams are incredibly easy to ride and navigate.


Loved these antique toy fire engines.




The faces on these dolls are so real.


A dolls’ tea service depicting the story of Cinderella, 1889.


The building that houses the museum is lovely itself. This is the main staircase. (There’s an elevator, don’t worry).


They have a massive collection of antique dollhouses. Here are a few highlights.







Other unusual scale structures fill the building as well.


This diorama is a stage of an opera–the figures can be moved around.


This carriage is beautifully done.


I loved the doll and her sedan chair.


Monks enjoying their brewery.


This room and the one below are cardboard foldaway room boxes.



My husband posted this on his Facebook page with the caption “What bears really do in the woods.”.


Loved the detail in this machine shop.




The full shop.


Another wood shop.


There is an entire display cabinet of these beautiful and unusual 1″ scale artisan miniatures.



Note that the chair can be pushed into the desk and everything shut with the key.


The top of a mouse hole (field mice, obviously).


The interior of the mouse hole.


The whole (hole) thing.


Very large Swiss dollhouse. I told my husband, “See, there are dollhouses out there bigger than mine!” Note the inlay in the floors.


The beginning of the “street of shops” with incredible character dolls. The detail and the lifelike dolls make the scene.


More to come in another post.

Dollhouses in Amsterdam

On vacation in Amsterdam I discovered that the Rijksmuseum has dollhouses!! A whole room full of them. It’s in the 1600s-1700s galleries, which I think are on the second floor. These are to scale (looks like about 1.5″ to the foot), made by cabinetmakers. Apparently, collecting for dollhouses was a hobby in the 17th century. These ladies would feel right at home with our dollhouse groups now I think.

























Yet More from the Mini Time Machine

Every time I go to the Mini Time Machine in Tucson, I see something new. This is what I found last week. (Click pics for close-ups)

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Model of Sparrow House (1567) in Ipswich, model built in 1930.

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Albion Pub in London, model build ca. 1913

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African Room

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Dirty basement, left side

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Dirty basement, right side

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Architect’s box and paint box. Tools are all functional.

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Drafting tools from same artisan who did architect’s box. (Corner of Brooke Tucker room)

Mini Time Machine revisited

While I finish the 23 windows for the Big House (almost done!!!!), I’ll post more pictures I captured at the Mini Time Machine museum in Tucson. Anything I’ve posted on this blog is a drop in the bucket. The museum is a must-see!

Click the photos for close-ups.

1″ scale baby house exterior

Baby house interior (1/144 scale)

Violin Shop in a violin

One of my favorite “cute” rooms–The Library.



Fabulous Tudor house in half-inch scale.


A film star relaxes in her dressing room.


More shots of the Greene and Greene house.


The museum had a temporary exhibit of Connie Sauve’s scenes last year. This one is called “Hitting the Dusty Road.”




One of my favorite room boxes is this bathroom by Whitledge Burgess.



I love the intricacy of the box, how there’s something more around every corner and through every doorway.



The Brownstone. This is worth the trip to the museum! The facade is on display as are all the apartments inside.

Left side


Right side

The super’s apartment in the basement of the brownstone.

These are only highlights! There’s much more at the museum.

More Mini Time Machine

I’ve been very ill this week, on top of a trip to California, on top of a load of work, so no posting on the mini blog. I do continue to work on the 1/2″ Fairfield–more on that when I can.

In the meantime, a couple more photos of things I “found” at the Mini Time Machine in Tucson.

Boat Builder’s Study at Lake Tahoe by Madelyn Cook

Bridge House by Brian Long

A tiny, tiny sample of what’s there.

Mini Time Machine Again

I had the fortune to go to Tucson and revisit the Mini Time Machine museum. Check out the Gallery in the Feb 2012 issue of Miniature Collector for a small peek the things there. Apparently there will be an entire article on it in Min Collector soon.

The collection is huge. I love that every time I go in, I see something new. This time what caught my eye was:

This room in the large dollhouse in the lobby, called Lagniappe by Madelyn Cook. This dollhouse is gigantic (the photo in the Feb. Min Collector shows only one side of it). The dollhouse has rooms on all four sides, a big courtyard, and so many other things. This room is tucked away on the side of the house, and caught my attention when I walked around it to get to the rest of the museum. (BTW, all the rooms are different–the whole house is not like this room.)

Is it not delicious? The color is like cake icing.

Click on the picture and the one below to enlarge them and roam around. Beautiful!


A couple other structures I hadn’t noticed last time is the French Keep, by Robert Daugherty

and this Dutch house by Ron and April Gill.

Amazing stuff. This is the tip of the iceberg. (I have more photos, but thought I’d dribble them out a little at a time).

The Mini Time Machine is very easy to get to, in Tucson, on the corner of Swan and Camp Lowell (Fort Lowell road turns into Camp Lowell just before you get to the museum). On the northwest corner, but not right on the corner (the entrance is on Camp Lowell just west of the strip mall).

Everyone should go! Worth the trip to Tucson.