August 28, 2011

Nutshells of Unexplained Death


‘Before forensics, DNA, and CSI we had dollhouses – an unimaginable collection of miniature crime scenes, known as the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Created in the 1930s and 1940s by a crime-fighting millionaire heiress grandmother Frances Glessner, the Nutshells helped homicide detectives hone their investigative skills. These surreal dollhouses reveal a dystopic and disturbing slice of domestic life with doll corpses representing actual murder victims, or perhaps something that just looks like murder. Despite all the advances in forensics, the Nutshells are still used today to train detectives.’

- Of Dolls and Murder



Having been a bit of a forensic science nerd since my preteen years, I'm surprised that I've never heard about these gruesome little "nutshell studies" before today when I stumbled upon this story on the amazingly fabulous How To Be A Retronaut.

A documentary film narrated by (who else?) John Waters explores the dioramas and their creator, Frances Glessner Lee, as well as the fact that these vintage dollhouses are still used to train detectives and forensics experts. Astounding.

7 comments:

Eartha Kitsch said...

I want to see that so much! I wish it would come to the art house theaters.

Really beautiful and fascinating. And "a crime-fighting millionaire heiress grandmother" - love it. That's what I want to be one day.

Briana Shepley said...

Amazing! So eerily wonderful :)

Heather said...

woah...creepy murdery dollhouses? Hmm...I think we need to make our own! These are so interesting and macabre!

Laurel said...

Fascinating stuff -- had never heard of anything like this. I love miniatures, but this is something I would never have dreamed of.
Laurel

Holly said...

That's pretty cool! I never knew about this either, but it's kinda got me wanting to sculpt tiny polymer clay accessories for them...

jungle dream pagoda said...

I will be sharing this with some of my pas who adore this sort of thang!

meghan said...

I love the book sooo much. I have spent hours looking at the photos!