The Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, located in Tucson, Arizona is a 15,560 square foot, state-of-the-art museum displaying an entertaining and interactive array of antique and contemporary miniatures as well as enchanting artifacts.
The museum styles itself as a miniature time machine, by which the visitor sets off on a self-guided tour through different lands and times both real and imagined. Over 275 miniature houses, room boxes and enchanting collectibles are part of the extraordinary collection in this educational and magical environment, appealing to visitors of all ages, interests and talents.
The Mini-Time Machine Museum has been open since September 2009 and was founded by Patricia & Walter Arnell. One of the goals of both the Arnells and the Board of Directors is to not just preserve the art of miniatures but to encourage others to pursue it as well.
From the moment visitors enter the parking lot of the museum, a mystical journey into the nether world begins. The entry door to the museum's foyer and lobby is built in such a way that one feels very much as though they are entering the world of Alice in Wonderland through the large door. As you enter lobby, watch out of the corners of your eyes or you might miss the spritely flight of Caitlin, the museum's resident fairy, complete with her own miniature world next to the foyer.
The entrance to the rooms is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The ceiling of the rotunda/hallway sparkles and twinkles with stars, as the ceiling rotates according to the earth's revolution. Were this the only room in the museum, both children and adults would be entertained for hours. But thank goodness this isn't the only room as guests continue to be spell-bound as they move onward towards the three rooms that comprise and hold the collections: Enchanted Realm, History Gallery, and Exploring the World.
The Enchanted Realm area has miniatures that represent different fantasy style scenes. This includes fairies, an Enchanted Tree with miniature scenes scattered in different parts of it, and witches. Those that collect their own Department 56 winter villages will enjoy the display of buildings from the North Pole series and the Snow Village buildings, which are displayed under glass in the floor. This area is the main area that kids tend to enjoy, especially those that like faeries and other mythical things.
The History Gallery contains antique miniatures that date from the 1700s to the mid-1900s. This area of the museum gives a look back at the history of miniatures and how they have been made over the years. It also gives historical context to various times and places of the past. This area also has some good info on the making of miniatures, especially early mechanical ones.
The Exploring the World area also contains a wide date range of historical time periods (1400s to present), but is bigger than the History Gallery. It displays a variety of miniatures from around the world. It includes Chateaus inspired by European palaces and Asian miniatures. The best part, though, is that it includes some Southwest inspired miniatures to add a local flair to the exhibit.
The museum hosts weekly sessions over the summer break for children aged 7-10 to learn the art of miniatures. For teachers looking for a creative and interesting way to bring history alive, the museum has special pricing and docent-led tours for school groups. Also, once a month, the museum hosts a literacy program geared toward little readers, children aged 2 to 6.