June 22, 2016

Dollhouses & Murder

About a year or so ago, I had the chance to visit the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore and see their fascinating collection of dollhouses… of a sort. Actually what I got to see were the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, a series of 19 small dioramas handmade in the 1940’s in 1:12 inch scale. IMG_0823[3]

The detail in these houses is extraordinary, and their creator, International Harvester heiress Francis Glessner Lee, handmade many of the pieces herself, having been taught the womanly arts of sewing, knitting and decoration as a young women. Pieces were knitted on straight pins, fabric was washed and dried dozens of times to creat the wear patterns, drawers open, cabinets are filled, and calendar pages are not only correct, but show the subsequent months. chairs

All of this is a way of letting you know that my office is hosting a lecture on Wednesday, July 13 in Baltimore on the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Tickets are $5.00 per person and can be ordered here. IMG_0828[3]Although the Nutshells won’t be there because they’re part of a permanent exhibition at the Medical Examiner’s office, there will be plenty of fascinating information and amazing images of them. For more information on the lecture, please check my MedChi Archives blog, here.


  1. Someone bought the rights to that book years ago. They were going to develop a show for HBO. I always thought Kathy Bates should play Mrs. Lee.

  2. A noted photographer and essayist, Corinne May Botz, wrote about this a number of a years ago. I clicked on the link thinking perhaps that she was your speaker. Her book, "The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death", is published by Monacelli Press, the fine arts publishers. I collect books on dollhouses and miniatures. Susan Adler Sobol

  3. They're not the Thorne Rooms, but awfully interesting all the same, and really well done. Should be an interesting talk.

  4. This is something I would totally do. (The miniatures, not the murders, heh.) Proof: www.wall-o-withnail.blogspot.com

  5. What an interesting lecture in so many ways, I'm really glad I attended this evening! Hopefully, MedChi will continue to offer lectures in the future. Thank you, Meg, for hosting such a nice evening.


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