Miniature Rooms The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago Bruce Hatton Boyer, Fannia Weingartner

Publication date:
27 Jan 2009
Art Institute of Chicago
184 pages: 279 x 254mm
124 color illus.
Sales territories:

The Thorne Rooms, sixty-eight miniature models of European interiors from the 16th century on and American furnishings from the 17th century on, have entranced generations of visitors to the Art Institute of Chicago. This charming book showcases these rooms, featuring full-color views of each one as well as eight two-page spreads of some of the most spectacular interiors.


The introductory essay by Bruce Hatton Boyer chronicles how Chicago socialite Mrs. James Ward Thorne conceived the rooms. They were made between 1934 and 1940 by a number of skilled craftsmen according to her exacting specifications. Many of the rooms were inspired by specific interiors in historic houses, palaces, and sites Mrs. Thorne visited during her travels, and Fannia Weingartner’s individual commentaries provide information about each one. In addition, a number of Mrs. Thorne’s original drawings are reproduced to actual scale. 

The late Fannia Weingartner was the editor of Chicago History and the head of the publications office at the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum). Bruce Hatton Boyer is a historian and novelist.


"Instead of merely cataloguing, the late Weingartner offers a privileged 'behind the scenes' peak into the intention, production, and reception of the Thorne Collection. . . . The delightful book will appeal to a wide range of readers.  It is both a glossy catalogue of images and a robust historical account of American skills and interpretations of European design, personified by Mrs. Thorne.  Highly recommended." —L. Farooque, Choice