Honey, I Shrunk The House

Honey, I Shrunk The House

‘Model Homes’ showcase artistry in miniature



It’s safe to say Carolyn Reno knows more about what’s in the Shiloh Museum vaults than anyone. As collections manager, she’s probably laid hands on every piece over her tenure in Springdale.

That means that when the museum acquires something new, Reno is immediately thinking about how it meshes with objects already on hand.

“We acquired an impressive dollhouse made by Clifford B. Wiggans of Fayetteville for his granddaughter, Mary Sugg,” she starts the story. “It is a copy of Mr. Wiggans’ home that was designed by famed Fayetteville architect, E. Fay Jones.

“The dollhouse has about a four-foot-square footprint and is split level. Two different roof lines are hinged so you can see the rooms inside. It’s quite something,” she explains. “So I was thinking about it and the number of other home models we have in collections and thought it would make an interesting and fun display.”

“Model Homes,” open throughout 2019, is small, like its subjects, but mighty.

“The exhibit has five different houses, two designed to be dollhouses, the others replicas of real houses,” Reno says. “Five pieces doesn’t sound like much, but they line a 24-foot wall in the museum’s meeting room. I like to call it a ‘pocket exhibit,’ sort of like a pocket park, a little gem tucked into a small space. There are a few photographs in the exhibit, some of the makers, some of the original homes, but the models are the main focus.”

The tiny houses also got Reno thinking about “people who just as a hobby or pastime have home workshops or corners of a room or garage where they go to make or tinker with things. In this exhibit, we see that the makers were compelled to make meaningful things either for their families or for their own recollections of things past.” Martha Cline Smyer might be one of those people.

Reno says although she never likes to point to a favorite object, in this case, “I will call attention to the oldest piece in the exhibit. In 1895 Martha Cline Smyer, a lifelong artist, made a model of the Smyer family home on Emma Avenue. It is one of three model homes that Martha made and [the subject is] the last home she lived in. The other two depict the Cline home in North Carolina about 1870 and the Smyer log cabin home in Hindsville (Madison County) about 1880. When the Smyer family donated these to the museum in 1971, they also gave us a copy of Martha’s memoirs where she wrote about her life in these homes. Quite a special collection!”

Reno says even she is never quite sure what impact an exhibit will have.

“I think people enjoy seeing miniature or small versions of real life things,” she muses. “Visitors to the exhibit will enjoy that aspect. Some might recall their own dollhouses or childhood homes. One visitor came to see the cabin models to get ideas for a new home as she downsizes from a three-story cabin home. Now that’s interesting!”



‘Model Homes’

WHEN — 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, through 2019

WHERE — Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale

COST — Free

INFO — 750-8165; shilohmuseum.org

Categories: Family Friendly