Article and photos by Cindy Duell, Tucson
According to Smithsonianmag.com, only five museums in the US are devoted to the art of miniatures.
The Mini Time Machine Museum exists right here in Tucson,Arizona due to the generosity and vision of a passionate hobbyist whose private collection became the foundation for this marvelous museum, and it offers many delightful displays to discover.
You might primarily think of miniatures as dollhouses, and that is partially correct, but visitors here see
so much more than that! Guests of all ages find plenty to fascinate and spark the imagination. Beyond the welcome desk, seeing the enormous “tree” inviting you into the Enchanted Realm Gallery is irresistible! Here you may look down on a little wintry village through the glass floor beneath your feet, find cohorts of dragons and elves, and admire collections of vintage toys (perhaps some of your – or your grandparents’ – favorite childhood playthings). For scavenger hunt lovers, the quest to find Caitlin (the resident fairy) keeps you looking around every corner throughout your visit.
Moving on from the Enchanted Realm, you enter the History Gallery. Featuring historical recreations,
antiques, and scale models of actual buildings, these creations reflect a great variety of time periods and
settings. My favorite is the model of the Gamble House in Pasadena, a celebrated example of the
Craftsman style of architecture from the mid-20 th century. Your favorite might be the “Little House on
the Prairie” log cabin! Some of the models here are quite old, themselves, constructed as long ago as
The MTM has a third permanent gallery, dedicated to Exploring the World. The models and items here
depict architectural styles and furnishings found in very different cultures, and they also demonstrate
how miniatures themselves are used in other countries. Throughout the museum, visitors will see
exquisite (and yes, amazingly small) examples of handicrafts such as pottery, needlepoint, jewelry,
carving, sculpture, and clothing.
Temporary exhibits have featured such marvels as miniatures carved on the tips of pencil leads, hand-
built figures of famous people throughout history, mechanized miniatures, and much more. There is a
gift shop with souvenirs, dollhouse furniture, and kits to construct on your own. Classes and seminars
are offered throughout the year for children and adults. You can even take a virtual tour at the
museum’s easily navigated website, theminitimemachine.org.
I hope you will enjoy the Mini Time Machine Museum as much as our family has!