“Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death”
a series of eighteen miniature crime-scene dioramas for student analysis
Frances Glessner Lee spent much of her life helping to promote and develop the field of forensics but aside from the money and dedication she created 18 incredibly detailed dioramas of crime scenes. These dioramas were called “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death” and were used as an education tool for students. This way, they could examine a crime scene and make an assessment (they were obviously not allowed to visit real crime scenes).
What is so remarkable about the “Nutshells” is Lee’s attention to detail. She loved dolls and used her interest to create her own, even using toothpicks to stitch wool socks and hats for the “victims.” She spared no expense hiring locksmiths to create locks and keys for the doors, designers to create blinds that could be raised and lowered. You will find tiny crushed cigarettes littered through the rooms or yards, a mousetrap that has caught its prey, tiny newspapers stuffed into drafty cracks in the wall, garbage cans overflowing with the usual household refuse.
And every single item is perfectly to scale.
It is very interesting that, considering a woman so wealthy and influential – every scene reeks of poverty and destitution.
Corinne May Botz has written a book about the work and the woman. It is called, of course, “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.” There you will find an in-depth look and lots of incredible photographs.