The Art of Darkness

The Nutshell Studies

October 14th, 2010 by Cobwebs

Nutshell StillBoingBoing recently posted a trailer for an upcoming documentary called “Of Dolls and Murder,” narrated by John Waters. The film (official site here) explores the public’s fascination with forensic science and revolves around “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” a set of dollhouse-type models depicting murder scenes in intricate detail.

A bit of googling revealed that the dioramas were the work of Frances Glessner Lee, a particularly single-minded heiress who decided to use her fortune to do what she always wanted to do, and it turns out that what she’d always wanted to do was make scrupulously-detailed dioramas of crime scenes. The models were sufficiently accurate that they were used to train police officers, and they’re still sometimes used in forensic seminars.

There’s a book about the dioramas by Corinne May Botz, who also has several photos available at her site (be sure to take a look at some of her other projects whilst you’re there).

In addition to just being really cool, this sounds like fertile ground for a DIY dollhouse project. A miniature cleaver, a little red paint, and you’ve got a grown-up diorama that would definitely be a conversation piece.

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