Ever since I was a little girl I have had a fascination with tiny spaces. I loved doll houses, models, and Lego buildings. Today I love RV’s and all those ‘small space’ books in the home section at the bookstore . Something about taking what we normally think of as being big and making it ‘miniature’ appeals to my imagination. Maybe it’s the inventiveness of trying to figure out how to make things fit, or maybe it’s the fact that I don’t own a yacht (yet) but can build a really awesome one out of Legos. Whatever drives this appeal of teeny-tinys I found a place in Tucson that thoroughly caters to my interest.
Tucson is home to a truly awesome museum known as ‘The Mini Time Machine’. The Museum exhibits nothing but miniatures, featuring everything in the world of small, from vintage 19th century doll houses to a gigantic Christmas village under glass in the floor, that you can peer over as though you were the jolly old elf yourself hovering above in your sled.
The museum is quite large and has three main themes to its permanent exhibits. These include the ‘Enchanted Realm’, the ‘History and Antiques’ gallery, and the ‘Exploring the world’ gallery. Each gallery showcases unique aspects of the world and craft of miniatures. The History and Antiques gallery leads you through a historical journey of miniatures, with some of the oldest dated pieces in the collection going all the way back to 1742! You will also find some of the best examples of modern miniature craftsmanship and techniques on display at the other end of the timeline in this gallery.
The Exploring the world gallery features miniatures from all over the globe, including places such as Germany, Holland, Japan, Spain, Italy, and Thailand.
The Enchanted Realm gallery is truly magical! It is definitely a favorite part of the trip for kids and will get the kid inside of you equally excited! The lights are a little bit lower in the exhibit and there is a giant, magical looking tree in the center of the room. All of the miniatures are encased in glass or plexi and the selections in the enchanted realm are fanciful and imaginative. You will find the giant Christmas village here, and you will also see a spooky gathering of witches. There are fairy worlds with their tiny toadstool tables and leaf hammocks, and fantasy lands with imagination and scaled down proportions as their only limitations.
Adjacent to the Enchanted Realm you will find a small cinema space where you can watch documentaries on the history of miniatures and other educational information on the exhibits and specific items of interest in the collection.
The museum also features special exhibits that are only for a set amount of time. For example, the featured exhibit this month is called ‘Fire! A glimpse of fire history in miniature’. This exhibit is really neat for anyone interested in history. You get a chance to see how firefighting technology developed, including the evolution of the fire truck, in historically accurate re-creations of these trucks in miniature. Some of the pieces have been created by contemporary artists working with historical documents and some of the pieces are from the time period they reflect.
Next month the museum will be highlighting miniature artist who work specifically in, or are from, the Southwest.
The museum also offers the ability to host birthday parties, special events, and educational field trips.
They also hold arts and craft classes. While visiting I learned one of the classes coming up in November will be teaching you how to make your own miniature fairy world inside of a terrarium; I will be taking this one for sure! And for the upcoming Holiday Season they will be having a course on making mini gingerbread houses! Yum!
There is so much to do and see at The Mini Time Machine! It is absolutely unique and should be on anyone’s list of must-see places when visiting Tucson. The admission is incredibly reasonable at only $9.00 for adults and $6.00 for children.
This month the museum is celebrating its 5th year anniversary with FREE admission throughout all of September. This includes both the permanent and featured exhibits.
My love of miniatures is here to stay, and with thousands of items in the museum’s collection there is no way I could take everything in during just one trip, so I know I will be going back – Time and Mini-Time again!
For more information on where you can stay while in Tucson and The Mini-Time Machine Museum click on the links below: