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.”

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.