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Three miniature exhibits and museums in the Midwest

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When miniatures call, enthusiasts answer with group tour stops across the United States. Here are three not-to-miss in the Midwest.

People viewing an exhibit at the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in Kansas City, Missouri

Photo: National Museum of Toys and Miniatures National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, Kansas City, Mo.

Discover fine-scale miniatures as art in the Thorne Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Find American heritage in the playthings saved and treasured at the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in Kansas City, Missouri.

And both at the Museum of Miniature Houses in Carmel, Indiana.

The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

Enter the Art Institute of Chicago on the Michigan Avenue side to access the lower level to view the Thorne Miniature Rooms.

Inside view of the miniature English Great Room of the Late Tudor Period at Art Institute of Chicago

Mrs. James Ward Thorne
 American, 1882-1966, ‘English Great Room of the Late Tudor Period, 1550-1603,’ c. 1937
Miniature room, mixed media,
Interior: 23 x 25 1/4 x 31 3/4 in.
(57.5 x 63.125 x 79.375 cm), Scale: 1 inch = 1 foot, Gift of Mrs. James Ward Thorne, 1941.1186, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago

The 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms provide a glimpse into European interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s. Visiting groups also can discover the detail of American furnishings from the 17th century to the 1930s. Designed and constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot, the models were conceived by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago and were constructed between 1932 and 1940 by master craftsmen according to her specifications.

Groups touring the Art Institute of Chicago during the holiday season are in for a special treat. Several rooms are decorated.

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
Kansas City, Missouri

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, formerly the Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City, re-opened in 2015 after an $8 million renovation. In addition to improved climate controls, the renovation features the world’s largest fine-scale miniature collection and one of the nation’s largest collections of antique toys in new exhibits and hands-on experiences.

Groups can try their hands at the fine-scale miniature art form by using tweezers to place hands on a seven-inch-tall grandfather clock. Explore the artist’s tools and the processes behind crafting a metal candlestick, dovetail drawer, egg tempera painting and ceramic dish.

Miniature house, Museum of Miniature Houses, Carmel, Indiana

Museum of Miniature Houses Miniature house, Museum of Miniature Houses, Carmel, Ind.

Museum of Miniature Houses
Carmel, Indiana

The Museum of Miniature Houses is one of only five in the country devoted to miniatures.

Museum exhibits include furnished miniature houses, single room scenes, and countless individual pieces of small-scale furniture, glassware, clocks, tools, needlework and original paintings.

A very special exhibit includes a commissioned work from Mrs. James Ward Thorne that she had commissioned for a charity event; the bar scene made in the 1950s was eventually donated it to the museum.

 A highlight in 2016 is the “Hoosiers in History” exhibit, which was made possible by a grant from the Hamilton County Tourism Association to celebrate Indiana’s bicentennial.

Go from small to large with visits to colossal man-made and natural attractions. Read our list of large attractions in the American West

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About Author

Mary Lu Laffey, Editor

Mary Lu Laffey is an award-winning editor and writer who has spent most of her adult life under a travel umbrella that is the perfect size for packing. A frequent contributor to the Worldview section in Group Tour and Student Group Tour magazines and always upfront in her From the Editor message, Laffey likes to hear a good tale even more than telling one.

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