Here’s a unique museum to add to your Southwestern bucket list: the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures in Tucson, Arizona. While Tucson is most well known for its’ brutally hot summers, the stately Saguaro cactus, and authentic Mexican food, it’s also home to quite an eclectic museum. The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is a unique space dedicated to over 400 antique and modern dollhouses. So much effort has been put into each of these tiny creations – it’s quite impossible to imagine the patience one must have had to make such small & intricate pieces.
Founders Patricia and Walter Arnell have always been interested in miniatures and wanted to share their passion with the community of Tucson and also to the many tourists that visit the city each year. When their collection (Patricia began collecting in the 1930’s) began to outgrow their available space, they came up with the idea for the museum, which has become a favorite amongst both locals and tourists.
The Time Machine name is spot on as you really feel like you have been transported through different time periods and places as you visit the 3 distinct rooms: The Enchanted Realm, the History Room, and Exploring the World. This museum is like taking a step back in time before all our modern technology: a place where you get to feel that youthful joy of using your imagination instead of relying on technology to do it for you!
The Enchanted Realm features fairies, imaginary creatures, and other mystical stories. The History section allows you to take a look at life in the 18th-20th centuries, and also includes the oldest miniature house in the United States, designed in 1775. Exploring the World features recreations of diverse places around the world. This is by far the most impressive area of the museum as the attention to detail is just amazing in every single display. A few of the more impressive displays, although as with all impressive works of art, you need to see them with your own eyes to truly appreciate the beauty!
This is not a museum where you quickly glance at an exhibit and then head to the next, as each dollhouse is truly an incredible work of art. As you take a closer look at each display, you can imagine how much effort was put into even the smallest of details. From mini chandeliers, to a dressing room with tiny individual clothing pieces, to neatly folded up miniature towels in the bathroom, every detail is so polished and perfect.
The collection here is really extensive with a bit of something for everyone. They even have a really impressive Halloween miniature set, along with several Christmas miniatures and a really big Christmas village set. There’s also a really unique Christmas village display under the glass where you can walk across the glass and look at the incredible set up beneath your feet. A few of the best pieces below…
A truly haunted house
This house, which is a replica of a real house in New England, is said to be haunted in real life as well as in the dollhouse! Objects have been said to be found in different places throughout the house! Pretty spooky!
Chateau Meno is perhaps one of the most impressive sights at this museum. This elaborate work of art was constructed over a period of 30 years! The stunning piece includes 14 lavishly designed rooms furnished with handmade furniture and chandeliers.
The summer is a great time to plan your visit to the museum. As it is too hot to do much of anything outside this time of year, the museum comes in as a nice indoor alternative which will easily fill up a few hours of your time. It is one of the few indoor attractions in Tucson worth checking out, as well as one of the more unique & memorable museums to visit in the Southwest.
Location, Hours, & Pricing Info
The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is located at: 4455 E Camp Lowell Dr, Tucson, AZ 85712. Hours are Tuesday–Saturday from 9am–4pm and Sunday from 12pm–4pm (closed Mondays and most major holidays). Admission prices are $9 adults, $8 seniors & military, $6 ages 4-17, and free for 3 and under. Discounted $6 admission is offered to everyone each Thursday. Also, if you purchase the Tucson Attractions Passport (offered during the summer season), you will receive a 2 for 1 deal.