Cover of Mrs. Thorne's World of Miniatures
Mrs. Thorne's World of Miniatures
Sally Sexton Kalmbach
Narcissa Niblack Thorne began collecting miniatures as a young girl. Her fascination grew and as an adult, she gained world-wide recognition for hundreds of miniature rooms created with such exacting detail that they became educational tools for students of architecture and interior design. Today you may visit the Art Institute to view the fascinating permanent collection of 68 Thorne Rooms which continue to bring a sense of wonder and amazement. Thorne Rooms are also in the permanent collections of the Phoenix Art Museum and the Knoxville Museum of Art.

About the Author
Sally Sexton Kalmbach is a fourth generation Chicagoan whose family founded a coffee and tea company in the early 1880s, at the same time Potter Palmer was developing Chicago's Gold Coast. Sally has taught classes in Chicago history at the Newberry Library, and has given numerous speeches and customized tours for individuals and small groups. Her expertise and ability to present material in an accessible, yet informative manner have resulted in a loyal following. Her topics include: Chicago's Gold Coast; Revisiting the Columbian Exposition of 1893; Mrs. Potter Palmer's Gold Coast; Women and the White City; Mansions and Millionaires: The McCormickville Walking Tour, offered by the Driehaus Museum; and Mrs. James Ward Thorne's Miniature Rooms. Sally is a board member of the Chicago Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, a volunteer docent at the Charnley-Persky House Museum, and a fund-raiser for Opportunity International, which helps underprivileged women start their own businesses.

6 x 9" 120 pages
Published: October 13, 2014
Autora Sally Sexton Kalmbach
Everything is more magical in miniature. When we were children, my mother would take me and my sisters to the Art Institute and the enchanting Thorne Rooms became a favorite childhood memory. They captured my imagination more than any painting. I loved the incredible attention to detail, architectural elements and three-dimensional qualities. It is no wonder they were pivotal in elevating miniatures into an art form. To this day, the Thorne Rooms resonate with me. --Richard Driehaus, Chicago Philanthropist

I will never forget the first time my grandmother took me downtown from Oak Park on the 'Lake Street L' to The Art Institute to see the Thorne Rooms. I imagined myself living in each room as I stared into the small windows, wondering how someone could create such beautiful dollhouse rooms. Over the years I have taken my children and grandchildren to see them. The rooms are so inviting. All of us are continually awed by the tiny replicas of rooms from many time periods. I cherish the friendships I have made through workshops to build houses and room boxes of my own. --Caroline Freivogel, Miniaturist

I remember well the first time I saw the Thorne Rooms. It was during a school field trip to The Art Institute in the late 1970s. In spite of everything I saw that day, the rooms made the greatest impression on me. I was already developing a strong interest in historic architecture, so they appealed to me as an opportunity to step back in time, literally. I could imagine myself (a much smaller version of myself!) walking into the rooms and absorbing every last detail, from the ornamentation and furnishings to the way in which the sunlight streamed through the windows. Nearly 20 years later, I learned about a dollhouse that my great-grandfather, also named William Tyre, had constructed for his daughter in 1898. Through some sleuthing I was able to locate and acquire the house, which by that time was in desperate need of restoration. I realized that it would never look as good as the Thorne Rooms, but I was inspired by Mrs. Thorne's extraordinary attention to detail in selecting quality furnishings and architectural appointments to create my own little world of the 1890s. --William Tyre, Executive Director & Curator, Glessner House Museum
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