RFT Asks: What's the Miniature Museum?

Get an inside look into the decades-old St. Louis museum highlighting all things mini

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click to enlarge Meg Dietrich smiles in a red sweater as she holds a mini snowman in front of a range of collectible objects.
BENJAMIN SIMON
Meg Dietrich, a volunteer, holds a mini snowman in the Bevo Mill located Miniature Museum.

Inside the Miniature Museum of Greater St. Louis, there are thousands of tiny worlds. Dollhouses with families. Elegant bedrooms. Train tracks with workers. Pizza, cake, purses and even some St. Louis architecture. The two-story, 6,200-square-foot Mini Museum has been around in St. Louis since 1989, before moving to its current location in Bevo Mill in 2001. RFT sat down with Meg Dietrich, a retired teacher, self-described "miniaturist" and the treasurer for the board of directors, who started volunteering at the south-city museum in 2006.

When was the first time that you stepped foot in here?

Well, my daughter ... moved to St. Louis with her then-husband, and we came over to visit [from Ohio]. We're eating at the Bevo Mill street, and we came out, and we're talking, and I looked across the street, and it's like, "There's a miniature museum here. Oh my goodness." And they had just opened up [in Bevo Mill] in 2001.

What stood out to you?

It's a very unusual and unique kind of place. There are all these small things, which I was already interested in. The scope of the museum, even at that time, when they only had the first floor operating — there were just all these big cases with excellent dollhouses, dolls, furniture and accessories. So I'd shop in the gift shop, and I'd go and I'd look, and I'd get ideas [for my own projects]. It was just a wonderful way to spend a day.

What are you working on at home?

I'm collecting right now some supplies because I want to do a 1770s pantry similar to what is described in the Outlander series. I don't know whether you're familiar with the show, but the book series is seven books. In the third book, it describes the 1770s pre-Revolutionary War pantry and the things that are in the pantry. And it's just like, oh my gosh, I need to do this in miniature. Find some of those old things, the kegs and the bottles.

How would you describe the range of things that you have here at the Miniature Museum?

Oh, it's vast. I can't even number how many displays we have because there are so many. ... [People say,] "Tell me how many miniatures there are." It's like, oh my gosh, I don't know. Well, we have the Cathedral, which is a local landmark. So that's a highlight for a lot of people. We also have a smaller replica of the Bevo Mill, and the Bevo is right across the street. You've got the Bevo, right here, in a smaller size.

Why is the Mini Museum important?

I think it's important for any large city to have a way to educate people about some of the history. Our history is changing so fast. So the kinds of furniture that we have today are different than the kinds of furniture that were current in the 1800s, 1700s. The way that we dress is different. ... We've got an Egyptian scene that shows how the Egyptians used to live — it's so different, but it's educational. All of the exhibits in one way or another are very educational. Kids come in, and it's not a teacher standing at the front of the room pounding dates in their head. But they can see something and they say, "Oh!" And their dad will say, 'Well, I used to play with something like that,' and relate it to them. It doesn't even have to be a burdensome kind of education.

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