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"Interestingly, she advanced in a male dominated field by co-opting the feminine tradition of miniatures."
November 27, 2011 7:40 AM   Subscribe

"The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death": an exploration of a collection of eighteen miniature crime scene models that were built in the 1940's and 50's by a progressive criminologist Frances Glessner Lee (1878 – 1962). The models, which were based on actual homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths, were created to train detectives to assess visual evidence. This seven-year project culminated in an exhibition and a book The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death (The Monacelli Press, 2004). [Image Gallery]
posted by Fizz (29 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously but dead-linkily.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:45 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please don't tell me about a collection of intricate puzzles of which I can only see part, and which I am unable to attempt to solve. It's very frustrating.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:46 AM on November 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Lee can rightly be considered the Mother of modern forensics.

They could make 3-d digital models like they did with Picasso's Guernica a couple of weeks ago.

Then people everywhere could marvel at the dioramas without frustration.
posted by Renoroc at 7:52 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy crap that first image. I'm with Leotrotsky; this is so frustrating! I want to know more!
posted by apricot at 8:51 AM on November 27, 2011


The Nutshell Studies models were an inspiration for a story arc on CSI.
posted by alby at 9:01 AM on November 27, 2011


I find myself utterly delighted by these.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:13 AM on November 27, 2011


That Wikipedia entry portrays a true pioneer - a female of great ability from a family in a sexist society who discouraged her ambitions but who persevered. She did not do this project until she was in her 50s. A real inspiration. Thanks for the link. I want this book! But help me here. The book is or is not a coffee table type book? I don't understand how these miniature diaramas are being recreated, bc the contemporary artist said you can pull the shades and the "stereoscopes" work, plus there are mice in the wall?? Wtf. These don't sound like pictures, so what does the book look like? It is the diaramas or pop-ups or something?
posted by scunning at 9:21 AM on November 27, 2011


scunning: it sounds like the description is for the dioramas themselves, not the book about them.
posted by tjenks at 9:32 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, this is fascinating, and I'd never heard of it... thank you so much for posting.

According to the Wikipedia article, her models are still being used to teach forensics at Harvard, so I think Corinne May Botz photographed the originals in an artistic way, and wrote the text--she didn't recreate the dioramas herself.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 9:34 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is an awesome book.
posted by OmieWise at 10:00 AM on November 27, 2011


scunning: I received the book for Christmas last year, and it is pretty much a coffee table book (a totally awesome one). It contains photographs and diagrams of Lee's original dioramas. It's beautifully photographed and put together, not to mention fascinating. I highly recommend it.
posted by arianell at 10:02 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Love this book. I got it a few years ago, and it has yet to wear out. It reminds me in detail of how much of the stories of the past have been papered over in popular memory. I'd love to see a tender recreation of one of her dioramas in a porcelain Thomas Kinkade setting from the Bradford Exchange.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:04 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


My friend Susan did an entire documentary about this, narrated by John Waters: Of Dolls and Murder.

I'll send her this link. Maybe she can contribute ALTHOUGH IT WILL COST YOU FIVE DOLLARS SUSAN.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:30 AM on November 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


...Aw man. I was so excited, because that book is the perfect gift for my hard-to-shop-for-SO. Then I see it's $144.

From the images that are online, though, it sounds like it might be worth it.
posted by meese at 10:31 AM on November 27, 2011


her models are still being used to teach forensics at Harvard

Maryland, actually.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:31 AM on November 27, 2011


She's playing with dolls.

( ಠ_ಠ)
( ಠ_ಠ)╯-■-■
(-■_■)

But the killer is playing for keeps.

YEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

(h/t adamdschneider)
posted by Trurl at 10:44 AM on November 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


There's a 24.95 home version, meese. I know because I just told my partner that he needed to consider it a potential holiday gift for me.
posted by nuala at 11:02 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can you link, nuala? Try as I might, I'm not finding it in Amazon at all.

Of Dolls and Murder also looks really awesome. The trailer, alone, is pretty cool. Good work, Bunny Ultramod's Friend Susan!
posted by meese at 11:17 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was nothing good about that 3 room dwelling. Nothing.

Creepy and fascinating!
posted by Biblio at 11:56 AM on November 27, 2011


her models are still being used to teach forensics at Harvard

Maryland, actually.


Yeah, they are. My SO & I were visiting her sister's family in Baltimore back in October and wanted to see these but we were told that a law enforcement seminar was going on all that week that was making use of them and the exhibit was unavailable to the public during that time. Our annual Creepy October vacation was significantly less creepy as a result.
posted by KingEdRa at 12:56 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was listed on-shelf in my library, but wasn't actually on the shelf. Mysterious...
posted by codacorolla at 6:58 PM on November 27, 2011


This book has been on my Amazon wishlist for a while. Thanks for the preview!
posted by IndigoRain at 7:19 PM on November 27, 2011


Sure, meese: here you go.
posted by nuala at 10:36 PM on November 27, 2011


Ooh, you meant the book. Not the documentary discussed up thread. Sorry, my mistake!
posted by nuala at 10:37 PM on November 27, 2011


My apologies to everyone that I just bought the only copy of this book on eBay, and for a sweeeet low price.
posted by argonauta at 5:47 AM on November 28, 2011


I just got an email from the author. She says the book is being reprinted in the "next few months".
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:48 AM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I gave the book to my mother, who liked to make sweet little dioramas like candy stores or florists. We share a gruesome side, so I'm hoping she'll get to create something like these.
posted by vickyverky at 8:27 AM on November 28, 2011


I took the ISBN from the $114 book (found on amazon) and plugged it into addall.com's book searchy thingy and found a few copies in the $28- $45 range.
posted by MansRiot at 8:39 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


A fascinating counterpoint: NYPD crime scene panoramas.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:09 PM on November 28, 2011


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