Our fascination with miniatures begins in childhood. Children love to have control of a world where the roles are reversed, and everything is miraculously smaller than they are. Many adults still love their train sets and dollhouses, but it is the privileged few who can find time in a hectic schedule or space in a cluttered household.
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The worlds crafted in miniature at the West End's Museum of Miniatures' new, larger location lack the chaos the real world holds for us in abundance. A dollhouse's antique chair can be placed at the table and the finest china can be set out, because they will be safe there, forever waiting for the family that will never be seated. The dishes will never be dirtied, forever spotless and always on display to be admired by guest after voyeuristic guest. Everything is as it should be--ordered and precise with a glow of quaint warmth that blankets every scene.
Castles are warmed by glowing fireplaces, and the drafts coming through the cracks in the frontier log cabin will never be felt. Mud is not tracked on the finely woven Asian rugs, and the occupants are forever in a state of whimsy, wearing their best clothes and on their best behavior.
The Museum of Miniatures is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, plus 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $3 to $5. 2001 N. Lamar in the West End. Call (214) 969-5502.
We can oversee a battlefield of toy soldiers and admire the authentically painted uniforms never to be pierced by a sword or a spear. We can look at the progression of tactics and weapons of war without ever hearing a shot. Life has been suspended in mid-charge, the glory never reduced to broken ranks and chaotic carnage.
It is a world sculpted by artists and craftsmen, therefore aesthetics are paramount, and meticulous attention to detail is the rule. Without the benefit of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, our own lives will never be that crafted. Like much art, it is based on reality but shaped by an ideal, and our participation is a welcome escape from the realities that can make us feel smaller than life-size. --Mark Hughes