“Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death”



Πρόκειται για μια συλλογή από 18 κουκλόσπιτα-σκηνές εγκλήματος, γνωστά ως “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death” (Μελέτες συνοψίζοντας τα πιο σημαντικά ανεξήγητων θανάτων).

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death are a series of nineteen (twenty were originally constructed) intricately designed dollhouse-style dioramas created by Frances Glessner Lee (1878–1962), a pioneer in forensic science.

Glessner Lee used her inheritance to establish a department of legal medicine at Harvard Medical School in 1936, and donated the first of the Nutshell Studies in 1946 for use in lectures on the subject of crime scene investigation. In 1966, the department was dissolved, and the dioramas went to the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. where they are on permanent loan and still used for forensic seminars.

The dioramas are detailed representations of death scenes that are composites of actual court cases, created by Glessner Lee on a 1-inch to 1 foot (1:12) scale. Each model cost about US$3,000–4,500 to create.

She attended autopsies to ensure accuracy, and her attention to detail extended to having a wall calendar include the pages after the month of the incident, constructing openable windows, and wearing out-of-date clothing to obtain realistically worn fabric. The dioramas show tawdry and, in many cases, disheveled living spaces very different from Glessner Lee’s own background. The dead include prostitutes and victims of domestic violence.

Glessner Lee called them the Nutshell Studies because the purpose of a forensic investigation is said to be to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.

“Students were instructed to study the scenes methodically—Glessner Lee suggested moving the eyes in a clockwise spiral—and draw conclusions from the visual evidence. At conferences hosted by Glessner Lee, prominent crime-scene investigators were given 90 minutes to study each diorama!

Αυτές οι μινιατούρες δημιουργήθηκαν στα 1930 και 1940 από την πλούσια κληρονόμο, πολέμιο του εγκλήματος Frances Glessner Lee.

Η Frances Glessner Lee επί το έργον

Οι “Nutshells” βοήθησαν τους ντετέκτιβ του εγκληματολογικού να ακονίσουν τις δεξιότητες τους στην έρευνα και χρησιμοποιούνται ακόμα και σήμερα για εκπαίδευση. Τα κουκλόσπιτα ήταν λεπτομερείς παρουσιάσεις πραγματικών εγκληματικών σκηνών σε κλίμακα 1:12.

Η ίδια η Glessner έκανε αυτοψίες στους τόπους των εγκλημάτων και σε συγκεντρώσεις που διοργάνωνε έδινε 90 λεπτά καιρό στους επίδοξους ερευνητές για να μελετήσουν το διόραμα.


8 comments on ““Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death”

    • These models, based on actual homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths, were created to train detectives to scrutinise visual evidence. Each model incorporated elements, or “problems,” from various crime scenes so each is a composite.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I watched the movie, very interesting. I also read about Frances Glessner Lee. I am very curious how this artist came up with the idea to create such “works of art”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lee, the first female police captain in the U.S., is considered the “mother of forensic science” and helped to found the first-of-its kind Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard University when the field of forensics was in its infancy. At the time, there was very little training for investigators, meaning that they often overlooked or mishandled key evidence, or irrevocably tampered with crime scenes. Few had any medical training that would allow them to determine cause of death. As Lee and her colleagues at Harvard worked to change this, tools were needed to help trainees scientifically approach their search for truth. Lee was a talented artist as well as criminologist, and used the craft of miniature-making that she had learned as a young girl to solve this problem. She constructed the Nutshells beginning in the 1940s to teach investigators to properly canvass a crime scene to effectively uncover and understand evidence. The equivalent to “virtual reality” in their time, her masterfully crafted dioramas feature handmade objects to render scenes with exacting accuracy and meticulous detail.


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