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Because Nothing is as Cool as Very, Very Small Dead People...

By Andrew Peerless in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 25, 2005 4:40PM

Back in third grade, Chicagoist constructed a moving, baseball-themed diorama with a ball that actually sailed over a distant (all the way on the other side of the shoe box) outfield fence and an accompanying audio track. Mean Mrs. Morris gave it a "B," and Chicagoist cried in front of the whole class.

Tiny tragedies happened here... courtesy of brucegoldfarb.comIn an ideal world, Mrs. Morris would have been replaced by Frances Glessner Lee, a native Chicagoan, heiress and crimefighter who spent much of the 1940s and 50s painstakingly assembling dioramas of notorious, real life crime scenes. Constructed to help detectives learn the importance of proper evidence handling and visual clues, the 1:12 scale Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death are crazy detailed: miniature bodies sit slumped in little bathtubs, itty-bitty newspapers display itty-bitty headlines, and Lilliputian bloodstains soak into diminutive carpets... all potential clues, ya see?

As Daily Candy reports, fifteen photographs documenting Ms. Lee's handiwork are going on display, between now and April 30, at the Glessner House Museum. In addition to the tiny injustices (in size, not scope), the museum will showcase other items relating to Ms. Lee, including a miniature Chicago Symphony Orchestra she created in 1913.

2005_2_glessnerhouse.jpgOh, and why does this lady's last name grace a museum? Frances Glessner Lee's parents, John and Frances Glessner, commissioned legendary architect H. H. Richardson to build them a home in 1885. The resulting "Glessner House," located in the once-fashionable Prairie Avenue district, is a benchmark of the Arts and Crafts movement, and a notable stepping stone in the development of nontraditional residential architecture. Swing down to Prairie Avenue soon to get a glimpse of both the house and the museum

Images courtesy of and