This hidden treasure, which opened in 1993, is located in the heart of the Carmel Arts District. It is a must-visit for any miniature, doll house, history lover, or just a fun day for the family. The intricacies and attention to detail on such a tiny, but elaborate scale, found here are fascinating. The museum is small, consisting of only seven rooms, but don’t let that deter you. They make great use of the space and there is much to be discovered in each one, plus miniatures don’t take up much room! The museum is home to full-sized doll houses, room boxes, and other miniature collections.
Everything you need to know
The Museum of Miniature Houses resides in an understated brick building at 111 E. Main St., with a small parking lot in back. You enter through the back of the building and check in with an attendant in the office, immediately to your left. Be sure to ask for a walkie while you are there. They are available for free and help to enhance your visit with an audio tour. You will see a red circle emblem sticker on different exhibits, with headphones and a number. This denotes there is additional information available on the audio tour about the exhibit. Type the corresponding number into your walkie and you can listen to additional facts, history, or personal stories about the pieces. Then it is time to begin your self-led tour of the museum.
The first main room to your left is the antique room, which is home to the oldest dollhouse in the museum; a large, green house assembled during the Civil War and dating back to 1861. All of the houses in this room are a bit larger in scale than those found in the other six rooms. The room mirroring on the right side of the hallway contains collections of a plethora of different miniatures, such glass slippers, Lego sets, natural medium carvings of Canadian Inuit artists, Hopi kachina dolls, and so much more. The connecting room contains several room boxes, which are recreations of specific scenes in one room, instead of a whole house. There is also a gorgeous open concept house and landscaping piece called “California Contemporary” situated on a large turntable so you can admire it from every angle. At the end of the hall is the room known as the “Founder’s Room”, which contains miniatures by founders Suzanne Moffett, Suzanne Landshoff, and Nancy Lesh. We liked to call it the “Unicorn Room,” though, because there are several unicorns hiding out in it. Many other houses, collections, and room boxes are located throughout the other rooms of the museum.
Each room also has a binder labeled “Exhibit Notes” located near the entrance with additional information, ranging from news articles on the pieces to design instructions. Be sure to shut off the lights in each room before you exit, to find out which houses are illuminated with their own electricity. This was a fun surprise for the kids, and made them rush back over to further inspect the pieces once they were lit up.
In the restroom, in addition to the cute dollhouse soap dispenser and decor, you will also notice there is a small library of books with topics of how to make miniatures, architectural reference, gardens, fiction, and general history that can be checked out, to take home and continue learning about miniatures.
The gift shop up front has everything for someone who would like to start collecting, someone who is looking to add to an already established collection, or someone who just wants a memento. You can find everything here, from full houses to furniture and figurines to the fixings for a fancy feast. The staff is very knowledgeable and ready to make recommendations about all the miniatures available for purchase.
The museum is open every weekend, with hours on Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, and on Sunday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. General admission to the museum is $10 per person ages 10 and up, $5 for ages 3 through 9, and FREE for those 2 and under. Military personnel and seniors aged 65+ receive a discounted admission of $8.
We recommend giving yourself at least an hour to check out everything. With the size of the building, I did not expect to be there long. We were pleasantly surprised, though, when we were there for almost two hours. We enjoyed visiting and re-visiting displays to notice details we may have missed the first time around. The not-for-profit museum also hosts events throughout the year, as well as workshops for miniaturists of all levels. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for upcoming events they may offer.
The Museum of Miniature Houses
111 East Main Street
Carmel, IN 46032