Frances Glessner Lee, Parsonage Parlor, about 1946-48. Collection of the Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, courtesy of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Baltimore, MD
I’ve been known to go all-out for my favorite holiday, often planning over-the-top costumes, eating more candy than I hand out, and listening to nothing but the “Nightmare Before Christmas” soundtrack for an entire month.
So when I heard that the Renwick Gallery was featuring the work of Frances Glessner Lee’s miniature crime scenes as an exhibit, I welcomed the opportunity to write a Halloween-themed blog post.
Lee was America’s first female police chief, but is better known as the “mother of forensic science.”
During her career in the early 1940s, there wasn’t much out there to train police in how to investigate crime scenes. So, Lee used traditionally feminine craft work to build dollhouse-sized dioramas to train to investigators at Harvard Medical School's Department of Legal Medicine on how to properly canvass a crime scene to uncover and understand evidence.
These “nutshells” were inspired by real crimes, but didn’t exactly resemble their original inspirations. Additionally, she often used female or working-class victims, whose cases she championed. That decision showed a creative and controversial use of artistic direction.
Frances Glessner Lee, Three-Room Dwelling (detail), about 1944-46. Collection of the Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, courtesy of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Baltimore, MD
“Presenting the Nutshells not as forensics displays but as artworks allows us to highlight the subtly subversive quality of Frances Glessner Lee’s work,” exhibit organizer, Nora Atkinson—The Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft—said in a press release. “She focuses on ‘invisible’ members of society such as impoverished and female victims, and the details she included in her dioramas challenge the association of femininity with order and domestic bliss.”
The exhibition is called “Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.” It’s open until Jan. 28, 2018. For more information, visit https://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/nutshells.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)